At the I-5 Skagit River Bridge, the girders are in place and the rail system for moving the span is ready. The final step, pouring the concrete deck, is on schedule to be completed early this week. Once the concrete is cured, the permanent span is ready to be installed. Barring any last-minute schedule changes, drivers will wake up to a new, permanent span on Sunday morning, Sept. 15.
In spite of the complexity of the project, its fast-paced schedule and the recent heavy rain, contractor crews working for the Washington State Department of Transportation (WSDOT) are ready to put the finishing touches on the new span and slide it into place Saturday night, Sept. 14.
“The contractor will detour I-5 traffic through the cities of Burlington and Mount Vernon for approximately 12 hours to remove the temporary spans and install the permanent span,” said Assistant Regional Administrator Jay Drye. “Moving bridges is not easy. Drivers need to stay engaged and plan for detours.”
Once I-5 traffic is detoured, contractor crews will move the two temporary spans out of the way using hydraulic jacks that slide on Teflon pads and long steel rails. Crews will then use a similar system to slide the new 900-ton span into position from the west side of the existing bridge and lower and lock it into place.
Drivers can then expect additional nighttime detours of one or both directions of I-5 at the Skagit River Bridge beginning Monday, Sept. 16, and continuing through mid-November. The detours will give contractor crews the space they need to begin retrofitting the overhead bridge supports.
A portion of the bridge on I-5 collapsed into the Skagit River in Burlington Thursday, May 23, after a semitruck struck critical steel supports. This vital corridor carries 71,000 vehicles each day and is the only north-south interstate in Washington state. The I-5 Skagit River Bridge reopened to traffic on June 19, after contractor crews installed temporary spans.