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Over 700 Barges Stuck in Mississippi River From Bridge Crack

  • Steel beam damage at I-40 bridge near Memphis halts vessels
  • Waterway reopening depends on bridge inspection: USCG
A tugboat with a barge attached waits near a boat ramp at Meeman-Shelby Forest State Park, May 12. 

A tugboat with a barge attached waits near a boat ramp at Meeman-Shelby Forest State Park, May 12. 

Photographer: Adrian Sainz/AP
Updated on

A crack in a bridge over the Mississippi River has stranded more than 700 barges, cutting off the biggest route for U.S. agricultural exports when the critical waterway is at its busiest.

The route is shut near Memphis while the Tennessee Department of Transportation inspects a large crack in a highway bridge spanning the river, according to the U.S. Coast Guard. A queue has expanded to 47 vessels and 771 barges, with 430 of those heading north and the rest going south, Petty Officer Carlos Galarza of the Coast Guard’s 8th District said Thursday afternoon by email.