Mar 27, 2024 - News

🚢 How river traffic is monitored

A tugboat passes beneath the twin spans of the Crescent City Connection.

A tugboat passes beneath the Crescent City Connection bridge near the Port of New Orleans on March 3, 2022. Photo: Luke Sharrett/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Nearly 10,600 vessels safely navigated beneath the Crescent City Connection last year, according to the Port of New Orleans.

Why it matters: The Francis Scott Key Bridge collapse outside Baltimore's port yesterday put into sharp relief just how scary it can be when things go wrong.

The big picture: The stretch of the Mississippi River between its mouth and Baton Rouge holds four of the top five U.S. ports, by tonnage, according to the Port of New Orleans.

  • The port relies on "layered safety measures" to help pilots navigate between Algiers Point and port terminals, including a system that transmits in real time the physical clearance distance between the Mississippi River and the bottom of area bridges.
  • The piers of the Crescent City Connection are additionally protected by a fender system, and the Huey P. Long Bridge piers by a bumper system, according to the Louisiana Department of Transportation.

Flashback: A towboat pushing an empty barge in 1993 hit a support pier of the Judge William Seeber Bridge, which crosses the Industrial Canal at Claiborne Avenue.

What's next: It's not yet clear how southeastern Louisiana's ports may be impacted by delays caused by the Baltimore bridge collapse.

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