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“A bridge that wasn’t open:” Barge hits bridge in Sturgeon Bay

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STURGEON BAY (WITI) — A close call for a tug boat crew Friday morning, December 26th after a barge hit the Oregon-Maple Bridge in Sturgeon Bay.

Jaisa Zuraff from Minneapolis was sightseeing with her family Friday morning in Sturgeon Bay.

“I guess we got a picture of a ship trying to go through a bridge that wasn’t open,” Zuraff said.

The ship was a large barge called The Texas. Tug boat crews were trying to park it between the Michigan Street bridge, and the Oregon-Maple Street bridge.

Glenn Longley saw it from the Michigan Street bridge.

“I saw the bridge bounce back and forth a little bit when the barge hit it. There’s not much room between the two bridges here,” Longley said.

The Door County Highway Department manages the bridge, which takes about five minutes to safely open. The Department of Transportation estimated the barge was travelling at about 2.3 miles per hour when The Texas hit the bridge.

“They communicated with our bridge tender, who had asked if they needed a bridge opening, and they indicated no, because they were going to stop between the two bridges. Unfortunately, they made a miscalculation as far as being able to stop in time,” Door County Highway Commissioner John Kolodziej said.

Kolodziej says The Texas cracked the railing and sidewalk, and broke some lighting as well.

“The tug company has indicated that they made an error in their calculations,” Kolodziej said.

The U.S. Coast Guard and Department of Transportation are investigating. Engineers say they tested the bridge to find no structural errors. The bridge is open to vehicle and maritime traffic.

Kolodziej says the incident could have been prevented.

“Actually hit the very almost exact center of the two leaves as they came together. It struck right in the center, so if the bridge was open, and if they had requested an opening, they would have been able to avoid the incident,” Kolodziej said.

Workers at the tug boat company did not want to comment.

Damage estimates are still coming in. The DOT says the tug boat company will likely have to pay for the repairs.

CLICK HERE for more on this story via FOX6’s sister station WLUK.