Sodrel Calls for Investigation into Ohio River Barge Accident
Jeffersonville, IN, Jan 27 -
Congressman Mike Sodrel, R- IN, announced he is calling for an immediate investigation by the National Transportation & Safety Board into yesterday's accident on the Ohio River that resulted in a barge crashing into the K&I Railroad Bridge where it remains lodged.
Sodrel has also asked the Federal Railroad Administration to investigate the structural safety of the K&I Railroad Bridge.
"I am deeply troubled by this yesterday's events, and I am calling on the National Transportation & Safety Board (NTSB) to immediately launch a formal investigation into the incident," Sodrel said. "The Ohio River is the lifeblood of our entire region and it is imperative that shippers who use our waterways have in place the proper procedures to ensure accidents like this don't happen."
According to the Coast Guard three barges broke loose from their tow near the McAlpine Locks. Two barges went over the dam and were secured, while the third barge remains lodged against the K&I Bridge.
Sodrel has sent a letter to Mark V. Rosenker, Acting Chairman of the National Transportation & Safety Board asking for a thorough explanation of the accident.
"To ensure the cause of this accident is understood and to prevent similar occurrences, I respectfully request a thorough investigation by your office. The safety of the communities I represent along the Ohio River is of great concern to me and must be preserved," Sodrel wrote. "Furthermore, the Ohio River is a major artery for barge traffic making it vital to the economy of the region."
Sodrel noted the Coast Guard has determined there is no health risk for people in the area. Sodrel praised Coast Guard and local officials for their work to secure the area and make preparations to close the Sherman Minton Bridge should the barge break loose.
"I am impressed with the work of the Coast Guard and local officials," Sodrel said. "With swift currents and a high water level, they are doing good work under less then ideal circumstances."
In a separate letter to Joseph H. Boardman, Administrator of the Federal Railroad Administration, Sodrel stated, "The potential for damage and stress to the bridge caused by the lodged barge could lead to greater tragedy if due diligence is not put forth. As rail traffic continues over the K & I Bridge, I believe it is vital for your office to take the immediate and necessary steps to carefully examine the bridge for structural soundness. This step is important to the safety of the surrounding community and the uninterrupted economic flow on the Ohio River."
Based on inquiries made by Rep. Sodrel's office, officials at Norfolk Southern Corporation this afternoon said they have taken precautionary safety measures including limiting rail traffic across the dual-track K&I Bridge to one train at a time.