Backup at the Bridge: Barge becomes stuck at Rio Hondo arroyo crossing

HARLINGEN — A seagoing barge loaded with benzene is stranded in Rio Hondo because the bridge won’t raise.

For two days the barge and towboat pushing it upstream on the Arroyo Colorado to the Port of Harlingen have been stalled at Rio Hondo.

Walker Smith, interim port director, said the state transportation department is working on the mechanical lift bridge. He said he has been told it is not related to the major refitting of the bridge scheduled to begin full-bore in September.

“This doesn’t have anything to do with the rehabilitation of the bridge, this is just a mechanical issue they’re having with the bridge, and as we know, anything mechanical will sometimes break,” Smith said yesterday.

Since it’s unclear when the bridge will lift again, all barge traffic to the Port of Harlingen is suspended in the interim.

“The barges are having to sit there until TxDOT is able to clear the issue and be able to raise the bridge up,” Smith added.

A call to TxDOT’s regional spokesperson was not returned yesterday.

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