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La. officials asking for video of barge striking bridge

VICKSBURG — Louisiana officials have informally asked about video from security cameras at the old U.S. Highway 80 bridge where a barge struck the Mississippi River span on March 23, 2011.

Vicksburg Bridge Commission superintendent Herman Smith tells the Vicksburg Post the agency has not been served with a subpoena for the video.

The highway bridge closed briefly after a 30-barge tow broke loose from the MV Kay A. Eckstein on the Mississippi River and one barge struck and lodged against a pier, closing the river to southbound traffic for a time. Contract crews moved it to the Louisiana bank and cut it for scrap.

The Highway 80 bridge is just north of the Interstate 20 bridge. The old bridge has been closed to vehicle traffic for several years. Trains still use it to cross between Mississippi and Louisiana.

In March of 2012, the Louisiana Department of Transportation and Development sued Marquette Transportation Co. for $1.7 million in federal court for damages to the bridge and labor costs, which the suit says involved worsened scouring around two piers.

At the time, LDOTD officials said the hole deepened from fast current swirling about the stranded barge. A bench trial is set Sept. 3 in Monroe, La., before U.S. District Judge Robert G. James.

Footage of the barges breaking loose was played during the bridge commission’s monthly meeting that April. Smith said lawyers for LDOTD asked about the footage this month but hasn’t subpoenaed the commission.

Smith said the commission will consult with the Department of Homeland Security, which administered a $50,000 grant in 2007 that paid for the bridge’s video security system, on whether to release a DVD of the footage to the LDOTD.

About Alan Turner

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