LOUISVILLE, KY (WAVE) - What would we do if a boat took out an entire span of one of the bridges connecting Louisville to Southern Indiana? McBride Fleet Port Capita Michael McBride says especially with the Ohio River at the levels it's been at the past few months one of the many barges that travel through the Louisville area could take out a bridge with no problem.
McBride has been on the water since he was a kid helping out with the family business that's been around for 5 generations. He knows firsthand just how dangerous navigating boats, specifically barges, can get.
"When the water's swift, in flooding conditions, it's a lot to get these barges up and down the river without touches the bridges. "It's a difficult task for any captain especially in flooding conditions," says McBride
After 6 months this past summer working right alongside the Eggner Ferry Bridge on the Tennessee River drilling holes for a new bridge, McBride perked up the minute he heard a boat took out a span
"My first thought was how many people were injured or killed? It's amazing to find out that no one was because for a bridge to be knocked down and 100s of cars not to go spilling into the river is rare to say the least," he says.
He also could guess what went wrong. There are four legal spans for a boat to cross under at Eggner. All four are different heights. "That cargo vessel, cargo ship is a very tall vessel and the main channel is the highest elevation wise. That's where most boats will go under because they can make it underneath it. Somehow he chose the far span on the other side of the arched bridge which put him at the shortest elevation," McBride explains.
McBride says the barges flowing under our bridges are carrying weight equivalent to 1000 semis. He says if one were to veer off or pick the wrong path, "if you get 1,000 semis hitting a bridge pier or 15 loaded barges making 10 miles an hour southbound with the current a bridge stands no chance."
Which should make us all feel lucky we haven't seen the damage they're now dealing with over in Western Kentucky.
The question of why the Delta Mariner captain chose that shortest span is still in question. McBride says it could be anything from inexperience to someone who is not familiar with the area to an issue with the navigational lights on the bridge.