Washington State devises trip-planning tool for truckers

SEATTLE, WA – Hoping to avoid another tragedy like the 2013 Skagit River Bridge collapse, state transportation officials have designed a new on-line tool to help truckers know about low-clearance routes.

In 2013, a section of that bridge in Mount Vernon, about 60 miles north of Seattle, fell into the Skagit River after being hit by a truck carrying a tall load. Two other automobiles also went into the water and three persons had to be rescued. The drivers survived but a state trooper was killed in the traffic chaos that ensued.

According to the National Transportation Security Board, one of the causes was insufficient route planning.

The Washington State Division of Transportation (WSDOT) responded by developing a tool named the “state route bridge vertical clearance trip planner.” It’s a database that makes it possible for truck drivers to enter their trip facts and it delivers warnings about possible conflicts. Officials the drivers will nevertheless be responsible for checking clearance levels, but the tool tends to make it less complicated when applying for trip permits.

“This innovation gives truckers a new tool to uncover the safest route for their trip,” Gov. Jay Inslee said in a statement. “It applies lessons discovered from the Skagit River Bridge replacement, and it will lower the risk of collisions all through the system.”

The Washington Trucking Association helped develop the tool and its members conducted beta testing on it.

“This is a enormous step in the correct path,” stated Sheri Call, the association’s vice president of government of relations. Prior to the tool, drivers had to look up bridge information on the net or in a book and then seek the advice of their own maps, she mentioned.

The trip planner database will be made available to navigation app developers, who have expressed interest in the data, state officials stated.


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