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Thursday, July 31, 2014, 9:16 p.m.
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Barge wreck temporarily shuts bridges, all now open

By David Harten

This article was originally published August 23, 2013 at 9:01 p.m. Updated August 23, 2013 at 10:06 p.m.

Authorities temporarily shut down several major crossings over the Arkansas River on Friday night after a barge came into contact with a portion of the Interstate 30 bridge.

Little Rock Fire Department spokesman Captain Randy Hickmon said officials shut down the I-30 bridge after the barge collided with one of the safety barriers that protects the concrete pylons holding the bridge up. Hickmon added that authorities, including the United States Coast Guard, are speaking with the barge driver to determine what caused the crash, which occurred around 8:20 p.m.

The I-30 bridge has since been reopened. Additionally, the Main Street and Broadway bridges, along with two pedestrian bridges located downtown, were shut down, but also reopened shortly after the collision, according to Hickmon and a release from the North Little Rock Police Department. No injuries were reported in the wreck.

NLRPD spokesman Sgt. Brian Dedrick said in an email that authorities made the call to shut down the bridges to "be on the safe side" while they investigate. All closures lasted about 45 minutes.

Hickmon said the barge "scraped" the bridge, avoiding a head-on collision with the barrier. It came to rest on the river near Bill and Hillary Clinton National Airport.

As far as what the barge was carrying, Hickmon said the section of the barge that came in contact with the safety barrier contained coal, but the barge is currently stable and is no threat to the river itself. Authorities are still investigating the affected area on the barge.

Read more about this story in tomorrow's Arkansas Democrat-Gazette.

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