By Laura Tillman/The Associated Press
JACKSON — The Mississippi River reopened Monday after authorities determined there was enough water covering a barge that sank over the weekend to allow other vessels to safely pass through.
About 30 barges broke free while being towed on Sunday and some struck a railroad bridge at Vicksburg. One barge carrying petroleum coke sank.
Coast Guard Lt. Ryan Gomez said there were no injuries or pollution.
After the river re-opened at 9:30 a.m. CDT, the coast guard began clearing 119 southbound vessels first and then planned to move 233 waiting northbound vessels.
Gomez said the Department of Transportation would do a survey of the bridge to see if it was damaged by the collision. Three barges ran aground along the river between mile markers 422 and 429.
The river at Vicksburg is currently at normal levels for this time of year, according to the Lower Mississippi River Forecast Center. Service Coordination Hydrologist Jeff Graschel said there may be some minor flooding impact in Natchez and Tunica in coming weeks due to heavy rains in Illinois and Missouri.
The cause of Sunday’s accident remains unclear. Gomez said weather conditions, operator error, and river conditions could have played a part.
“There are a whole lot of variables,” Gomez said. “Sometimes it’s just one factor, sometimes it’s all of them together.”