Temporary Skagit River bridge may be open in weeks

Credit: WSDOT

Gov. Inslee announced a plan to replace the collapsed portion of the Interstate 5 bridge over the Skagit River near Mount Vernon.

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by KING 5 News

KTVB.COM

Posted on May 26, 2013 at 7:41 PM

Plans are underway to construct a temporary bridge across the Skagit River.
 
“If things go well it could be up and running by mid-June,” said Inslee.

The temporary four-lane bridge will carry I-5 traffic over the Skagit River at a reduced speed and capacity. The bridge will consist of two, 24-foot wide structures to replace the collapsed section of the bridge. The structures will be pre-built and trucked to the site.

A new bridge will be constructed adjacent to the temporary bridge, with a goal of finishing the permanent fix by fall.
  
The federal government is expected to cover 90 percent of the cost of the temporary bridge and the replacement.

On Saturday, barges arrived at the river with equipment ready to remove the mangled steel, pavement and cars in the water.

Bridge has history

The National Transportation Safety Board said Sunday that the I-5 Skagit River bridge has a history of overweight hits. The last documented hit from an oversize vehicle on the bridge occurred on Oct. 22, 2012 on the first portal frame on the northbound lane.

NTSB Chairman Deborah Hersman said at a Sunday press conference that there is visible damage on frames along the bridge and there is also evidence of damage to spans from years past.

Hersman said an accident reconstruction team has completed 3D laster scanning of hte remaining bridge structure.

"Tire marks are skip skids, which indicate that following initial impact with bridge, the trailer may have been rocking or bouncing," she said.

Hersman said investigators are working to conduct interviews with the pilot car driver and with the people who were in the vehicles on the collapsed bridge.
 
“We are also looking to conduct interviews with other witnesses who were on the roadway at the time of the collapse,” she said.




The NTSB will spend a week to 10 days in the area looking at the bridge, talking to the truck driver whose vehicle hit it, and examining maintenance documents and previous accident reports.
   
Hersman does not expect the investigation to delay removal of debris from the river or work on a temporary solution to replace or repair the I-5 span.

Video courtesy of Ayman Mohyeldin shows the moments leading up to the accident and the impact.

 

The Washington Transportation Department says there are now two recommended options northbound and two options southbound around the collapsed Skagit River bridge in Mount Vernon.
   
Transportation officials say drivers can expect delays in both directions. About 71,000 vehicles use that stretch of highway every day. The bridge is about 60 miles north of Seattle and 40 miles south of the Canada border.
   
Officials are urging drivers to avoid the area if possible. But if you must go, check the Department of Transportation website for up-to-date information.

Detour information from WSDOT

The Department of Transportation will continue to modify the detour routes. Find up-to-date information at the following locations

I-5 Skagit river Bridge Northbound Detour Routes

I-5 Skagit river Bridge Southbound Detour Routes

WSDOT alternate route map | Follow WSDOT on Twitter for detour upates

There are several ways you can keep updated on traffic through the area:

Planes, trains are an alternative to automobiles

Amtrak  and BNSF are taking on more passengers. Alaska Airlines also announced a special fare of $99 each way, Seattle to Bellingham, through June 1. Some people are flying via Kenmore Air

Amtrak says it plans to add one daily round trip between Seattle and Bellingham.

In a statement, Amtrak, WSDOT, Sound Transit and BNSF Railway said they're working together to add the service. It would involve a morning departure from Seattle to Bellingham with an early evening return to help those who normally drive the route. Spokesmen said more details will be released as they become available.

Amtrak says its Amtrak Cascades service provides four trips each day over the Skagit River Rail Bridge, which remains fully functional.

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