The Houston Ship Channel was reopened Wednesday for the first time since the March 22 barge collision near the Texas City Dike that sent an estimated 168,000 gallons of oil spilling into the waterway.

All lanes of traffic were reopened for daylight hours only, according to Capt. Clint Winegar, the vice president of Houston Ship Pilots. Priority access was being given to cargoes of crude oil, perishable and refrigerated goods, and cars.

Winegar said five vessels had already entered the channel, 15 more were outbound, and 15-20 more were expected to be able to enter before dark.

Wednesday morning, 51 vessels were waiting to enter and 36 were waiting to leave the channel, a U.S. Coast Guard official said.

The collision occurred about 12:35 p.m. March 22, when a barge owned by Kirby Inland Marine was struck by a 585-foot bulk carrier, Summer Wind, causing one of the barge’s six bunker fuel tanks to rupture and leak the heavy oil.

The Texas City oil spill attorneys of Schechter, Shaffer & Harris, L.L.P., Accident & Injury Lawyers have helped many clients in claims against Kirby, as well as claims in the 2010 Deepwater Horizon explosion and oil spill. If you’ve been impacted by the recent oil spill, contact them today to learn your legal options.