SEATTLE (AP) Washington state plans to install within weeks a temporary fix for an interstate highway bridge that crumpled after being hit by a truck, tossing cars and people into a chilly river but causing only minor injuries.
Gov. Jay Inslee announced May 26 that the temporary spans for the Interstate 5 bridge will be installed across the Skagit River by around mid-June, if plans go well.
Barges with equipment to remove the mangled bridge and cars in the water arrived at the site and work was expected to start during the early hours of May 27, the state Department of Transportation said.
The announcement came as investigators used 3D laser scans to study what remained of the collapsed bridge.
It also came a day after the chairwoman of the National Transportation Safety Board called the collapse a wake-up call to the state of safety of the nation’s infrastructure.
The Washington state collapse, caused by the truck carrying an oversize load, fractured one of the major trade and travel corridors on the West Coast. The interstate connects Washington state with Canada, which is about an hour north of Mount Vernon, where the bridge buckled.
After the collapse, semi-trucks, travel buses and cars clogged local bridges as traffic was diverted through the small cities around the bridge. But overall, traffic was flowing as well as expected during the holiday weekend.
“We’re going to get this project done as fast as humanly possible,” Inslee, a democrat, said. “There are no more important issue right now to the economy of the state of Washington than getting this bridge up and running.”
Inslee said he hopes the temporary spans, each with two lanes for northbound and southbound traffic, will be finished in about three weeks’ time. The spans will be pre-built and trucked to Mount Vernon.
The state plan also calls for a permanent span to be built and completed by autumn, officials said.
Officials said there are remaining inspections to the spans left standing to make sure they are safe to use.
The federal government is expected to cover 100 percent of the costs of the temporary bridge and 90 percent the replacement, said state Transportation Secretary Lynn Peterson.