Bridge Collapse Causes Major Delays, ‘Miraculous’ No One Died

by Michael Brown

MOUNT VERNON, WA — UPDATED: A temporary replacement for the bridge is expected by mid-June, says Jay Inslee, Washington state governor, with a permanent solution by early autumn reports Reuters.

“We will install a temporary span on the bridge that will restore traffic while we build a safe and durable permanent span adjacent to it,” says Inslee.

The temporary fix will result in a slower speed limit and less vehicles on the bridge. There will be a two-week period — most likely in September — where the bridge will be closed again to finish work on the permanent span replacement. 

ORIGINAL STORY: A bridge collapse on the main route from Vancouver to Seattle means trucks in the area will be delayed even more than usual in the next few days.

A section of the Skagit River bridge on the Interstate-5 collapsed Thursday night after a truck reportedly hit a support girder. Police say it was “miraculous” no one was killed; two vehicles plunged in to the water and three people are now being treated with non-life threatening injuries.

“The Washington State Patrol says that the truck hit [a girder] and the bridge collapsed, but we’re not declaring that one led to the other right now until official word comes out about that,” says Mike Allende, spokesman for the Washington State Department of Transportation.

Traffic is being directed around the area and it is unknown when a solution — whether temporary or permanent — will be put in place.

If you are travelling southbound, Allende advises taking exit 230 from I-5, going south on Best Road, east on Fir Island and then rejoining I-5 from State Route 534.

For anyone travelling northbound, the route is pretty much the same. Take State Route 534 from I-5, go west on Fir Island, north on Best Road and rejoin I-5 going north. All detours are well sign-posted.

Allende says that based on current reports he’s received, drivers can expect a delay of 40 minutes or more. While the I-5 is backed up about a mile in each direction, “it’s the side streets that are really clogged,” says Allende.

The collapse comes just before Memorial Day weekend in the United States, one of the busiest road travel times of the year according to the American Automobile Association (AAA).

“The bridge was inspected twice last year and it was fine,” says Allende. “If we see anything wrong with them we close it immediately. 

The truck that the police say hit the bridge was apparently carrying an over-size load but, according to authorities, had received all of the appropriate permits from the State to be on the bridge.

The National Transportation Safety Board is investigating the cause of the collapse. More details to come.

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