Temporary bridge open on I-5 but restrictions apply

By David Tanner, Land Line associate editor | Wednesday, June 19, 2013

A temporary bridge span is open to traffic on Interstate 5 north of Seattle, but some restrictions apply. Standard truck sizes and weights are allowed, but oversize and overweight loads must use a marked detour. The structure temporarily replaces a 160-foot section that collapsed into the Skagit River on May 23.

The Washington State Department of Transportation opened the span on Wednesday, June 19. It consists of two lanes in each direction, but the temporary lanes are 11 feet wide instead of 12 feet, and the shoulders are 1 foot wide instead of 3 feet.

Something else to be mindful of is the reduced speed limit of 40 mph for southbound traffic approaching the bridge. The reduced speed zone starts at state Route 20 and ends at College Way.

WSDOT has published detour routes for loads requiring permits. Click here to view the maps. Call the agency at 360-704-6340 with any questions regarding permits or oversized loads on the route.

With the temporary fix in place, officials hope to make a permanent fix and have it in place by Oct. 1. The route carries 71,000 vehicles per day.

The National Transportation Safety Board is still investigating the cause of the bridge collapse. In the early evening hours of May 23, a permitted over-height load that was crossing the bridge struck overhead supports. Seconds later, a 160-foot section collapsed into the river, taking two passenger vehicles with it. The occupants of those vehicles survived.

The trucker hauling the permitted load, William Scott of Alberta, Canada, stopped immediately and cooperated with authorities.

Scott told NTSB investigators that he was being “crowded” to the right by another truck that was attempting to pass him as the vehicles crossed the bridge. The bridge’s overhead supports were lower at the right shoulder than they were in the middle of the two lanes, leaving little room for the over-height load to clear.

Authorities have had no luck finding the second truck, which did not stop.

The collapse has also shed light on the nation’s aging roads and bridges and the massive shortfalls facing the Highway Trust Fund.

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