Watch For Runaway Barges in East Dubuque!

Runaway barges are not usually a common topic in Iowa and Illinois, but last month was a rare occurrence. On June 9th, a tow of 15 barges and a bridge support were traveling downstream when the lead barge hit the Julien Dubuque Bridge and sent the others on their way. The bridge was closed to vehicle traffic for about 18 hours to conduct inspections. Witnesses say the vessels were traveling too fast for the pilot to maneuver them around the bridge. The current in that area of the river is strong, and doesn’t usually have a consistent pattern. Three of them lodged against the bridge, and several others were gathered by towboats. The nose of the barge was sticking out of the water, so it was easy to locate. It should have been pretty easy to rescue, but there were a couple things keeping that from happening: high water and SEVERE flooding.
It took about a month f0r the water levels to fall, allowing crews to begin the removal of the sunken barge. Four cranes, including an A-frame that is attached to a construction barge, are set up to help lift the barge out of the water. The plan is to lift the barge and rotate it enough to fix the damage while it is still in the water. If damage is too extreme, they might have to move it upstream before attempting the repairs. The project should take a couple days, as long as no hidden challenges arise.
 

 

 

The barge is owned by Brennan Marine, based in La Crosse, WI. They would like to repair the barge to bypass the extreme costs of replacing it. A new barge would cost them between $600,000 and $700,000.
 

 

 

Dan Wallin, who is the Retail Accessory Manager for Runde Chevrolet, was going home from work the night of the accident and he was actually on the bridge in his truck when the barge struck it. He said that he heard the impact clearly, but he didn’t feel the bridge move or shake. I know a few of our other Runde coworkers spend a lot of their time off on the river. I hope none of them were in that area when the accident occurred! It isn’t very easy to dodge runaway barges.

CLICK HERE to View the Barge Removal Video!!

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