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    The Gulf Intracoastal Waterway was shut down following a collision between a barge and the Pelican Island bridge, resulting in an oil spill.

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    On Wednesday morning, a barge collided with the Pelican Island Causeway, resulting in bridge damage and an oil spill in the bay, as reported by the Galveston County Sheriff’s Office.

    The Gulf Intracoastal Waterway is currently closed for approximately 6.5 miles from marker 350.5 to 357 as authorities respond to the incident. County Judge Mark Henry stated that due to the oil spill’s movement towards that direction, the U.S. Coast Guard opted for the closure.

    This closure poses significant challenges for maritime commercial activities along the Texas coast and affects residents of Pelican Island, which relies on the bridge as its sole access point.

    Galveston County officials have initiated evacuations for Pelican Island residents unable to return soon. Traffic is being allowed to cross the bridge one vehicle at a time, with a 20-foot gap between each.

    While Harborside Drive remains open for east-west traffic, northbound access to Pelican Island from 51st and Harborside is restricted, with Galveston police directing detours.

    According to Henry, at around 10 a.m., the towed vessel broke loose and collided with the unused railroad portion of the bridge. Two crew members were either thrown or jumped off but were promptly rescued.

    The barge is leaking vacuum gas oil, with a capacity of 30,000 gallons. Authorities are investigating reports of pollution as the Coast Guard oversees the situation.

    A visible oil sheen of approximately 300 feet was observed in the bay, with crews assessing bridge damage, including four Texas Department of Transportation inspectors.

    Despite initial power outages, Pelican Island has since shifted to an alternate power source, as confirmed by Henry.

    Texas A&M University Galveston, situated on Pelican Island, issued an alert regarding the bridge closure, reassuring the restoration of electricity and promising further updates.

    Pelican Island is not only home to Texas A&M University but also hosts attractions such as Seawolf Park and the Galveston Naval Museum, along with various port-related industries.

    Source: abc13.com

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