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Rope failure to blame for 7 runaway barges

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Port of Muskogee officials say a two-inch polycotton lock line unraveled, causing seven empty barges to float away from their moorings Monday evening. 

The barges floated downstream and into a U.S. Highway 62 bridge pier, causing authorities to close down the highway until a damage assessment could be made. 

Crews were able to roundup all of the barges and return them to the Port of Muskogee. 

The U.S. Coast Guard is investigating. 

Steve Taylor, victim president of Johnston's Port 33, Inc. says the Coast Guard has ruled out vandalism or sabotage. 

The highway bridge was reopened to traffic about 8 hours after the incident Monday. 

The barge incident is eerily similar to another barge incident at the Webbers Falls I-40 bridge in which 14 people died in 2002. 

Related story:

4/14/2008  Runaway Barges Shut Down Bridge

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