Washington has announced a plan to replace the collapsed portion of the I-5 bridge over the Skagit River near Mt. Vernon.
“We will install a temporary span on the bridge that will restore traffic while we build a safe and durable permanent span adjacent to it,” said Gov. Jay Inslee. “This plan ensures the economic vitality of Washington state and the communities along this important corridor.”
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-ft-wide structures to replace the collapsed section of the bridge. These structures will be prebuilt 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.”
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.
Inslee’s proclamation on Friday prompted the immediate $1 million federal emergency quick release funding from U.S. DOT. Federal funding will make up 90% of the cost of a permanent fix. The initial estimate for the total cost of a permanent fix is $15 million.
“We are doing everything possible to restore mobility as quickly as possible and expedite repairs,” said U.S. Secretary of Transportation Ray LaHood. “Today's funding represents a down payment on our commitment to the people of Washington.”
The bridge carries an estimated 71,000 vehicles each day and is a major commercial route between Washington and Canada. Approximately 11% of the vehicles are commercial trucks transporting goods between the two countries.