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GIWW and the San Bernard
Posted on Nov 16th, 2014

According to the November 2014 issue of WORKBOAT magazine, barge accidents at the Brazos River Floodgates are caused by its outdated design. Built in 1943, the 75 ‘ wide floodgates are too narrow and tows have to be broken down to make multiple trips across the river. Navigating the difficult angle between the East and West gates causes a number of strikes by the towboats and barges making the Brazos River Floodgates the leading hazard on the Gulf Intracoastal Waterway. A possible solution to improving the gates would be to widen another 25’ and move back about 1,200’.
Note: The following was contained in the 83rd Texas Legislative Report (2013) ”Gulf Intracoastal Waterway” page 5
“In February 2009, the mouth of the San Bernard River was restored to its original location by dredging over 340,000 cubic yards of sediment from the sand spit that had formed across the mouth. The blockage caused waters of the San Bernard River to travel eastward through the Brazos River Floodgates, creating hazardous currents that jeopardized commercial navigation. Significant reductions in the velocity of water through the Brazos River Floodgates were evident immediately after the dredge restored the river’s connection to the Gulf of Mexico. >>
Photo Courtesy: Tom Folger, www.folgerstudios.com
Another load of equipment (loop reactor) for the Chevron Phillips Chemical expansion at its Sweeny complex in Old Ocean, travels upriver on Saturday morning, Nov. 8. Recreational boaters should exercise extreme caution when operating near commercial traffic.    
While the mouth of the San Bernard River is still unstable, moving westward about 6 feet per day, it is anticipated that currents will remain low through the Brazos River Floodgates for another three to five years. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Galveston District and the Texas Department of Transportation will monitor the performance of the project and develop appropriate actions as they become necessary.”
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