MOUNT VERNON, WASH. — Washington Governor Inslee announced a plan to replace the collapsed portion of the Interstate 5 bridge over the Skagit River near Mt. Vernon. The state will install a temporary span on the bridge that will restore traffic while it builds a safe and durable permanent span adjacent to it. 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. These structures will be pre-built and trucked to the site to allow for accelerated installation. The remaining southern section has been examined and will not need to be replaced.
“The plan minimizes the closure time and keeps clear access to popular Skagit County retail business and destinations including the Anacortes ferry terminal,” said Inslee. “I’m proud of all the work done by the Department of Transportation and all our local and federal partners that resulted in this innovative plan.”
A visualization of the temporary replacement bridge can be found at www.flickr.com/photos/wsdot/8844817115.
If the remaining inspections of the bridge structure find no additional damage, the temporary bridge could be in place within weeks. Once debris has been removed, further underwater structural examinations will determine if additional repairs are needed before installing the temporary span.
Crews will immediately start work on the permanent bridge when the temporary span is put in place. Crews will put temporary piers into the river to support a platform adjacent to the collapsed span where the new section will be built. Once complete, the temporary span will be removed and the new permanent span will be moved into place. WSDOT hopes to have the permanent bridge open to traffic in early fall.
Governor Inslee’s proclamation on Friday, May 24, prompted the immediate $1 million federal emergency quick release funding from U.S. Department of Transportation. Federal funding will make up 90 percent of the cost of a permanent fix. The initial estimate for the total cost of a permanent fix is $15 million.
Commenting on the I-5 bridge collapse, American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) President Gregory DiLoreto, P.E., said, “We at ASCE are relieved that there were no fatalities or serious injuries associated with the I-5 Skagit River Bridge collapse. While it appears that an oversized vehicle may have played a significant role in the collapse, the forthcoming NTSB report will give us a clearer picture of what took place.
“This bridge was classified as functionally obsolete, which means that the bridge no longer meets the current standards that are used today. We have aging bridges across the country that need to be maintained and modernized, and dwindling transportation funds to address these pressing needs. According to the Congressional Budget Office, the Highway Trust Fund will be bankrupt near the end of 2014.
“When a bridge like the one in Washington is out of service, it has a ripple effect on the entire economy. Not only does it severely disrupt traffic and the ability of emergency vehicles to move quickly to affected areas during a crisis, but it also prevents goods from getting from point A to point B. These costs can far outweigh the maintenance and repair work that could be done in order to avoid such a failure. We must fix the Highway Trust Fund in order to guarantee that there is revenue available to repair and rehabilitate our nation’s aging bridges.
“ASCE’s 2013 Report Card for America’s Infrastructure gave bridges a grade of C+, and found that there is an investment shortfall of about $8 billion per year from all levels of government to address current needs in this sector.”