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Major Eastern Iowa Bridge Hit by Barges, Bridge Closed

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DUBUQUE- Several runaway barges smashed into a support of the Julien Dubuque Bridge around eight o'clock Monday night, closing it until authorities can inspect it for safety reasons. They expect it will remain closed at least through Monday night, and plan to begin the inspection early Tuesday morning.

The bridge carries two-lane U.S. 20 over the Mississippi River and joins the cities of Dubuque in Iowa and East Dubuque in Illinois.

The DOT says 15 barges fully loaded with corn, soybeans, and iron ore struck one of the bridge pillars on the Eastern side of the main channel. Twelve of the barges have been collected and secured, one barge is impaled on the pillar and taking on water, and two other barges are stuck nearby. A marine service is working on securing those remaining barges.

Authorities say they're not sure if the bridge is stable, so they are re-routing traffic to the bridge that connects Dubuque to Wisconsin.

Jeff Noel who witnessed the incident told TV-9, "There weren't any cars on the bridge, so we thought there was an accident. But we looked down and saw all the bridges floating around every which way all haphazard."

Once an inspection of the bridge is completed, the Department of Transportation says it will determine what to do with it next. According to transportation officials, the Julien Dubuque Bridge opened in 1943. It is a continuous steel arch truss bridge. They say the longest span is 845 feet and total length 5,760 feet.

Detoured traffic information is below:

Eastbound U.S. 20 traffic traveling from Iowa to Illinois is being diverted to Locust Street north to the Locust Street Connector to U.S.
61/151 north (over the Dubuque/Wisconsin Bridge) to WI 11 east to WI/IL 35 south to U.S. 20 eastbound.

Westbound U.S.20 Illinois traffic bound for Iowa is being diverted to IL/WI 35 north to WI 11 west (over the Dubuque/Wisconsin Bridge) to U.S. 61/151 south to Locust Street Connector to Locust Street south to U.S.20 (Dodge Street) westbound.

The Dubuque Fire Department, Dubuque Police Department, East Dubuque Fire Department, East Dubuque Police Department, Jo Daviess County, Iowa Department of Transportation, and the City of Dubuque Emergency Operation Center staff responded to the incident.

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