Barge operator that hit the Sunshine Bridge reportedly hit other barges before

October 23, 2018 - 4:46 pm


The Advocate newspaper reports Marquette Transportation, the barge operator responsible for hitting the Sunshine Bridge at Donaldsonville, had 32 collisions or “brush-ups” with bridges since 2013, and were not penalized. Ascension Parish Council Chairman Bill Dawson says their piloting should have been addressed much sooner.

“If you don’t pay attention to the small incidents, then they are going to escalate. I think it’s just human nature, and I think the same thing is true there.”

Dawson worked for decades and is currently a consultant in the industry, and when asked if the pilot who took the crane barge into the bridge should have been allowed out on the water…

“No, I would have love to have seen that (the pilot not driving the barge), and we would not be talking today. That would have been the ideal solution.”

The report shows the US Coast Guard has not referred the company for penalties despite incidents that have caused hundreds of thousands of dollars in damage that triggered “informal investigations”. Dawson says it’s clear the Coast Guard needs to reform how it tracks company and pilot accidents on the river.

“There needs to be a data base that keeps up with how many accidents or incidents or near misses even that a company or pilot has had, so we can stop it at the lower level.”

According to the report, Marquette Transportation collision or near miss incidents have not resulted in fatalities, or enough damage to trigger a more substantial investigation by higher levels of the guard.

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