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Press Release | Dec. 14, 2023

Coast Guard establishes safety zone for collapsed bridge in Culebra, Puerto Rico

SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico – The Coast Guard Captain of the Port in Puerto Rico established a safety zone, Wednesday, for a deteriorated collapsing bridge structure on Culebra Island, Puerto Rico.

No vessel or person is allowed to enter the Safety Zone within the established waterway without obtaining permission from the Captain of the Port or a designated representative.

“We are establishing a safety zone extending 50 yards along the waterway on either side of this collapsing bridge structure on Culebra to prevent persons and vessels in the waterway near and under the bridge,” said Lt. Cmdr. Carlos Ortega, U.S. Coast Guard Sector San Juan waterways management division chief. “This safety zone is being established to protect life and property within the navigable waters in the vicinity of the bridge.”

The Coast Guard is also working in coordination with local agencies to establish a temporary alternate vessel landing site at the ‘Muelle del Viraje’ to disembark supplies, fuel, and emergency vehicles as well as other primary necessity services while the bridge replacement project is carried out.

“We understand the challenges the community in Culebra is facing and we are coordinating with local and federal authorities to facilitate commerce and oversee the safe arrival of equipment by sea to the side of Culebra affected by the bridge closure,” said Lt. Cmdr. Christopher O’Connor, Sector San Juan chief of prevention. “We are diligently working with the Puerto Rico Department of Transportation and Public Works, Public Safety, the National Guard and our port partners to assess the feasibility of an alternate vessel landing at the Muelle del Viraje.” 

Coast Guard watchstanders at Sector San Juan received a report from a concerned citizen at 6:36 p.m. Tuesday, reporting the bridge's structural integrity had been compromised, and that there were several vessels transiting underneath that were putting themselves at risk. The reporting source further stated that the bridge had already been collapsing but was now in worse shape with debris falling into the water.

Persons found to be in violation of the safety zone could face a potential fine anywhere from $5,000 to $111,031.00.

For more information on the established safety zone, the U.S. Coast Guard may be contacted via VHF-FM Channel 16 or by calling (787) 289-2041.