Collision Closes Port of Houston

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Photo: James Nielsen, Houston Chronicle

From the Houston Chronicle:

The U.S. Coast Guard shut down the sole channel leading to the Port of Houston after a set of barges hit an electrical tower in the water, possibly cutting off access to the port until Wednesday.

A towing vessel pushing three barges of scrap metal hit the high-line electrical tower, which carries lines across the channel, at the narrowest point of the shipping artery, said Petty Officer Richard Brahm, a spokesman for the Coast Guard.

“Maybe if it was wider we could have got boats around it, but it’s not, so it’s a logistical problem. … It’s a bad place for it to happen,” Brahm said.

The 25-mile-long port complex is a major economic engine for the city and in 2009 handled the most tonnage of any port in the country, according to the Port of Houston Authority.

The story doesn’t give the location of the accident, but it may involve the power lines at Alexander Island, near Baytown, shown below. A closure at that point shuts off virtually all of the channel. The good news is that these things usually seem to get cleared up ahead of schedule.

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