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Texas bridge connecting Galveston and Pelican Island reopened after barge collision

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Texas bridge connecting Galveston and Pelican Island reopened after barge collision
News

News

Texas bridge connecting Galveston and Pelican Island reopened after barge collision

2024-05-21 02:32 Last Updated At:02:41

HOUSTON (AP) — A bridge near Galveston, Texas, that was damaged last week when a barge carrying fuel broke free from a tugboat has reopened to vehicle and pedestrian traffic after safety inspections deemed it safe, officials said.

The barge crashed into a pillar supporting the Pelican Island Causeway span on May 15. The impact caused the bridge to partially collapse and cut off the only road connecting Galveston to Pelican Island.

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Crews monitor spill booms at the Pelican Island bridge in Galveston, Texas on Thursday, May 16, 2024, after a barge collided with the bridge Tuesday causing a partial collapse of the bridge and spilling vacuum gas oil into Galveston Bay. (Jennifer Reynolds/The Galveston County Daily News via AP)

HOUSTON (AP) — A bridge near Galveston, Texas, that was damaged last week when a barge carrying fuel broke free from a tugboat has reopened to vehicle and pedestrian traffic after safety inspections deemed it safe, officials said.

Crews monitor spill booms at the Pelican Island bridge in Galveston, Texas on Thursday, May 16, 2024, after a barge collided with the bridge Tuesday causing a partial collapse of the bridge and spilling vacuum gas oil into Galveston Bay. (Jennifer Reynolds/The Galveston County Daily News via AP)

Crews monitor spill booms at the Pelican Island bridge in Galveston, Texas on Thursday, May 16, 2024, after a barge collided with the bridge Tuesday causing a partial collapse of the bridge and spilling vacuum gas oil into Galveston Bay. (Jennifer Reynolds/The Galveston County Daily News via AP)

Debris and railroad tracks from the Pelican Island bridge in Galveston lie atop a barge owned by Martin Marine on Wednesday, May 16, 2024. The barge crashed into the bridge at about 10 a.m. Tuesday closing the only road access to and from the island. The bridge Wednesday was open to car traffic leaving Pelican Island and pedestrian traffic both ways. (Jennifer Reynolds/The Galveston County Daily News via AP)

Debris and railroad tracks from the Pelican Island bridge in Galveston lie atop a barge owned by Martin Marine on Wednesday, May 16, 2024. The barge crashed into the bridge at about 10 a.m. Tuesday closing the only road access to and from the island. The bridge Wednesday was open to car traffic leaving Pelican Island and pedestrian traffic both ways. (Jennifer Reynolds/The Galveston County Daily News via AP)

Spill booms surround a barge at the Pelican Island bridge in Galveston, Texas, Wednesday, May 16, 2024. The barge collided with the bridge Tuesday which caused a partial collapse of the bridge and spilled vacuum gas oil the barge was carrying into Galveston Bay. (Jennifer Reynolds/The Galveston County Daily News via AP)

Spill booms surround a barge at the Pelican Island bridge in Galveston, Texas, Wednesday, May 16, 2024. The barge collided with the bridge Tuesday which caused a partial collapse of the bridge and spilled vacuum gas oil the barge was carrying into Galveston Bay. (Jennifer Reynolds/The Galveston County Daily News via AP)

Spill booms surround a barge at the Pelican Island bridge in Galveston, Texas, Wednesday, May 16, 2024. The barge collided with the bridge Tuesday which caused a partial collapse of the bridge and spilled vacuum gas oil the barge was carrying into Galveston Bay. (Jennifer Reynolds/The Galveston County Daily News via AP)

Spill booms surround a barge at the Pelican Island bridge in Galveston, Texas, Wednesday, May 16, 2024. The barge collided with the bridge Tuesday which caused a partial collapse of the bridge and spilled vacuum gas oil the barge was carrying into Galveston Bay. (Jennifer Reynolds/The Galveston County Daily News via AP)

After a review of the bridge by the Galveston County Navigation District No. 1 and underwater inspectors with the Texas Department of Transportation, the structure was reopened late Saturday night. Officials have set weight limits for vehicles using the bridge.

Early estimates had indicated that up to 2,000 gallons (7,571 liters) of oil spilled into surrounding waters following the collision.

On Sunday, the U.S. Coast Guard updated that figure, saying approximately 20,000 gallons (75,708 liters) of oil were spilled.

After the oil spill, authorities deployed a boom, or barrier, to contain the spill, forcing the temporary closure of about 6.5 miles (10.5 kilometers) of the waterway.

Clean up efforts have ended around Pelican Island. But crews were still removing oil and washing shoreside rocks along Swan Lake, a coastal recess located several miles west of Pelican Island along the Texas Coast.

During the clean-up efforts, crews recovered three dead, oiled birds from around Swan Lake: two brown pelicans and a laughing gull.

Nine other birds that were alive but covered in oil were spotted around Swan Lake, but officials said they were not able to recover them.

“To further protect wildlife, acoustic cannons were placed to provide an audible distraction to shore birds,” the Coast Guard said.

After the barge collision, Texas A&M University at Galveston, which has a campus on Pelican Island, had closed its facility. Fewer than 200 people related to the school were on the island at the time.

The university said the campus resumed normal operations on Monday.

The Coast Guard said the tugboat had lost control of the 321-foot barge “due to a break in the coupling” that had connected the two vessels.

The affected area is miles from the Gulf Intracoastal Waterway, which sees frequent barge traffic, and the Houston Ship Channel, a large shipping channel for ocean-going vessels.

The accident came weeks after a cargo ship crashed into a support column of the Francis Key Bridge in Baltimore on March 26, killing six construction workers.

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Crews monitor spill booms at the Pelican Island bridge in Galveston, Texas on Thursday, May 16, 2024, after a barge collided with the bridge Tuesday causing a partial collapse of the bridge and spilling vacuum gas oil into Galveston Bay. (Jennifer Reynolds/The Galveston County Daily News via AP)

Crews monitor spill booms at the Pelican Island bridge in Galveston, Texas on Thursday, May 16, 2024, after a barge collided with the bridge Tuesday causing a partial collapse of the bridge and spilling vacuum gas oil into Galveston Bay. (Jennifer Reynolds/The Galveston County Daily News via AP)

Crews monitor spill booms at the Pelican Island bridge in Galveston, Texas on Thursday, May 16, 2024, after a barge collided with the bridge Tuesday causing a partial collapse of the bridge and spilling vacuum gas oil into Galveston Bay. (Jennifer Reynolds/The Galveston County Daily News via AP)

Crews monitor spill booms at the Pelican Island bridge in Galveston, Texas on Thursday, May 16, 2024, after a barge collided with the bridge Tuesday causing a partial collapse of the bridge and spilling vacuum gas oil into Galveston Bay. (Jennifer Reynolds/The Galveston County Daily News via AP)

Debris and railroad tracks from the Pelican Island bridge in Galveston lie atop a barge owned by Martin Marine on Wednesday, May 16, 2024. The barge crashed into the bridge at about 10 a.m. Tuesday closing the only road access to and from the island. The bridge Wednesday was open to car traffic leaving Pelican Island and pedestrian traffic both ways. (Jennifer Reynolds/The Galveston County Daily News via AP)

Debris and railroad tracks from the Pelican Island bridge in Galveston lie atop a barge owned by Martin Marine on Wednesday, May 16, 2024. The barge crashed into the bridge at about 10 a.m. Tuesday closing the only road access to and from the island. The bridge Wednesday was open to car traffic leaving Pelican Island and pedestrian traffic both ways. (Jennifer Reynolds/The Galveston County Daily News via AP)

Spill booms surround a barge at the Pelican Island bridge in Galveston, Texas, Wednesday, May 16, 2024. The barge collided with the bridge Tuesday which caused a partial collapse of the bridge and spilled vacuum gas oil the barge was carrying into Galveston Bay. (Jennifer Reynolds/The Galveston County Daily News via AP)

Spill booms surround a barge at the Pelican Island bridge in Galveston, Texas, Wednesday, May 16, 2024. The barge collided with the bridge Tuesday which caused a partial collapse of the bridge and spilled vacuum gas oil the barge was carrying into Galveston Bay. (Jennifer Reynolds/The Galveston County Daily News via AP)

Spill booms surround a barge at the Pelican Island bridge in Galveston, Texas, Wednesday, May 16, 2024. The barge collided with the bridge Tuesday which caused a partial collapse of the bridge and spilled vacuum gas oil the barge was carrying into Galveston Bay. (Jennifer Reynolds/The Galveston County Daily News via AP)

Spill booms surround a barge at the Pelican Island bridge in Galveston, Texas, Wednesday, May 16, 2024. The barge collided with the bridge Tuesday which caused a partial collapse of the bridge and spilled vacuum gas oil the barge was carrying into Galveston Bay. (Jennifer Reynolds/The Galveston County Daily News via AP)

Russian President Vladimir Putin promised Friday to “immediately” order a cease-fire in Ukraine and begin negotiations if Kyiv started withdrawing troops from the four regions annexed by Moscow in 2022 and renounced plans to join NATO.

Such a deal appears a nonstarter for Kyiv, which wants to join the military alliance and has demanded that Russia withdraw its troops from all of its territory. There was no immediate comment from Ukraine on Putin's proposal.

“We will do it immediately,” Putin said in a speech at the Russian Foreign Ministry in Moscow.

His remarks came as leaders of the Group of Seven leading industrialized nations met in Italy and as Switzerland prepared to host scores of world leaders -- but not from Moscow -- this weekend to try to map out first steps toward peace in Ukraine. The U.S. and Ukraine this week also signed a 10-year security agreement that they hailed as a milestone in relations.

Russia launched its a full-scale invasion of Ukraine in February 2022. After Ukrainian forces thwarted a Russian drive to the capital, much of the fighting has focused in the south and east - and Russia illegally annexed regions in the east and the south, although it doesn’t fully control any of them.

Putin said his proposal is aimed at a “final resolution” of the conflict in Ukraine rather than “freezing it," and stressed that the Kremlin is “ready to start negotiations without delay.”

Broader demands for peace that the Russian leader listed included Ukraine's non-nuclear status, restrictions on its military force and protecting the interests of the Russian-speaking population in the country. All of these should become part of “fundamental international agreements,” and all Western sanctions against Russia should be lifted, Putin said.

“We're urging to turn this tragic page of history and to begin restoring, step-by-step, restore the unity between Russia and Ukraine and in Europe in general,” he said.

Putin’s remarks represented a rare occasion in which he clearly laid out his conditions for ending the war in Ukraine, but it didn’t include any new demands. The Kremlin has said before that Kyiv should recognize its territorial gains and drop its bid to join NATO.

Russia doesn't fully control any of the four regions it illegally annexed in 2022, but Putin insisted Friday that Kyiv should withdraw from them entirely and essentially cede them to Moscow within their administrative borders. In Zaporizhzhia in the southeast, Russia still doesn't control the region's namesake administrative capital with a pre-war population of about 700,000, and in the neighboring Kherson region, Moscow withdrew from Kherson's biggest city and capital of the same name in November 2022.

Putin said that if “Kyiv and Western capitals” reject his offer, “it is their business, their political and moral responsibility for continuing the bloodshed.”

Russian President Vladimir Putin, left, and Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov arrive to a meeting at the Russian Foreign Ministry in Moscow, Russia, Friday, June 14, 2024. (AP Photo/Alexander Zemlianichenko)

Russian President Vladimir Putin, left, and Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov arrive to a meeting at the Russian Foreign Ministry in Moscow, Russia, Friday, June 14, 2024. (AP Photo/Alexander Zemlianichenko)

Russian President Vladimir Putin speaks during a meeting at the Russian Foreign Ministry in Moscow, Russia, Friday, June 14, 2024. (AP Photo/Alexander Zemlianichenko)

Russian President Vladimir Putin speaks during a meeting at the Russian Foreign Ministry in Moscow, Russia, Friday, June 14, 2024. (AP Photo/Alexander Zemlianichenko)

Russian President Vladimir Putin speaks during a meeting at the Russian Foreign Ministry in Moscow, Russia, Friday, June 14, 2024. (AP Photo/Alexander Zemlianichenko)

Russian President Vladimir Putin speaks during a meeting at the Russian Foreign Ministry in Moscow, Russia, Friday, June 14, 2024. (AP Photo/Alexander Zemlianichenko)

Russian President Vladimir Putin, left, and Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov attend a meeting at the Russian Foreign Ministry in Moscow, Russia, Friday, June 14, 2024. (AP Photo/Alexander Zemlianichenko)

Russian President Vladimir Putin, left, and Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov attend a meeting at the Russian Foreign Ministry in Moscow, Russia, Friday, June 14, 2024. (AP Photo/Alexander Zemlianichenko)

Russian President Vladimir Putin speaks during a meeting at the Russian Foreign Ministry in Moscow, Russia, Friday, June 14, 2024. (AP Photo/Alexander Zemlianichenko)

Russian President Vladimir Putin speaks during a meeting at the Russian Foreign Ministry in Moscow, Russia, Friday, June 14, 2024. (AP Photo/Alexander Zemlianichenko)

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