Illinois River Bridge Shears Pilothouse Off Towboat

The pilothouse of the mv. Zeus was sheared off after it made contact with the PPU (Peoria and Pekin Union) Bridge on the Illinois River in East Peoria, Ill. The incident happened January 8, according to the U.S. Coast Guard. The captain, although showered with debris and suffering scrapes and bruises, escaped without major injury. No injuries to the crew were reported.

The mv. Zeus is a twin-screw, 1,800 hp. boat built in 1977 and operated by Sabine Transportation Company until 1995, when it was transferred to Kirby Inland Marine LP.

According to the Coast Guard, the Zeus was approaching the bridge at about 8:20 p.m. when the incident happened. The vertical-lift PPU Bridge is routinely raised and lowered for passing towboats and other craft. Approaching boats are required to make radio contact with bridge operators.

After the incident, the Tazewell and Peoria Railroad, which leases and operates the bridge, temporarily took the rail line out of service.

Lt. Cmdr. Daniel Wilkinson, commander of the East Peoria Coast Guard Marine Safety Detachment, confirmed to The Waterways Journal that there were no serious injuries and that no one else was in the pilothouse with the captain when the incident took place. He said the bridge’s lighting configuration was initially affected but was working normally for both rail and marine traffic by January 10. Wilkinson said the bridge was also able to raise and lower, and waterway traffic was “back to normal.”

Both Wilkinson and a Kirby spokesman declined to provide more details, saying the information was sensitive because the investigation is ongoing. The Zeus remains moored in Peoria.