Texas: A boat crashes into a Galveston bridge causing an infrastructure collapse and an oil spill

The accident occurred when a tugboat backing out of the port lost control of two fuel barges it was towing.

This Wednesday, a boat collided with a bridge in Galveston, Texas, triggering an oil spill and blocking the only road access to a nearby island home to a university. Although no injuries were immediately reported, two people aboard the boat fell into the water, although they were quickly rescued.

Galveston County Navigation District bridge superintendent David Flores said the barge struck the bridge connecting north Galveston to Pelican Island around 9:50 a.m. The accident occurred when a tugboat backing out of the Texas International Terminals lost control of the two fuel barges it was pushing, causing the collision and oil spill. "The current was very bad, and the tide was high," Flores said.

Galveston County spokesperson Spencer Lewis confirmed that cleanup crews are already working to contain the oil spill, which has spread into the channel off Galveston Bay. However, as a precaution, about 10.5 kilometers (6.5 miles) of the waterway were closed.

Although the exact amount of oil spilled from the barge has not yet been determined, it is estimated that the vessel, owned by Martin Petroleum, has a capacity of 30,000 gallons.

Galveston authorities also reported that they are diverting traffic from the bridge while the damage is assessed. Images shared on social media showed at least one piece of broken concrete and debris from the railway line hanging from the bridge. However, Flores explained that this line has never been used and only serves as a protection measure for the structure.

As for Texas A&M University at Galveston, it has already urged non-essential employees to evacuate the institution as soon as possible. Students residing on campus have the option to stay but have been advised to be prepared to remain there for an indefinite period. According to a spokesperson, there are currently about 180 people, including students, faculty and staff on the university campus.

This incident comes just weeks after a freighter crashed into a support column of the Francis Key Bridge in Baltimore, killing six construction workers.