On September 15, 2001, while traffic at Queen Isabella Causeway was normal, loaded barges crashed into the columns of the bridge causing the collapse of a central portion of it. The barges were traveling at 0.2 miles/hr and the collision caused the collapse of 24.4 m (80 ft) sections of the bridge into the water. Eight people fell into the water and died while others managed to survive.
Beyond the loss of life, the longer-term consequences were significant. The bridge was the only way from South Padre Island, Texas, to the mainland and power and water lifelines were also supported by it.
Restoration lasted two months and additional safety features were incorporated in the bridge. These included further reinforcement of the columns and a fiber optic driver warning system.
Today, the bridge continues to be used daily and bike lanes across the bridge are scheduled to be constructed.