Last night around 7pm, part of the I5 bridge over the Skagit River collapsed into the water, carrying 2 cars and 3 people with it. Amazingly, within a few hours, all three people had been rescued safely, and there were no fatalities. Looking at the mangled steel beams in the water, it seems like a miracle.
Since the event, there has been a ton of speculation, there have been guesses as to what exactly happened, and a lot of misinformation floating around. So, here is a bullet list of everything we have confirmed so far. (Photo: Jessie Barnhart/KOMO)
EVENT INFO: Updated 11:05am Friday
-Around 7pm last night, roughly a quarter of the I5 bridge over the Skagit River collapsed, sending 2 vehicles into the water. 3 people were rescued within hours of the incident, therewere no fatalities.
-Dan Sligh and his wife were in one vehicle. He said he escaped with some cuts and bruises, and was taken to the hopsital as a precaution. He also said his wife suffered some internal bleeding, but was also going to be fine. Third victim is already home from the hospital as well.
-Crews are still investigating what caused the bridge to crumble. WSDOT has NOT confirmed what caused the collapse, although they have stated that they are investigating a semi that witnesses claimed hit multiple girders.
-WSP Trooper Mark Francis said that Troopers found the semi believed to have hit multiple girders on the bridge just before it fell. The driver is cooperating with investigators. In this video, though, WSP Chief John Batiste does say that the cause was the semi. Still, a DOT investigation is happening, so it has not been confirmed by all parties.
-The semi in question was from Canada, traveling to Vancouver, BC. The trucking company, Mullen Trucking out of Alberta, says received a state-issued permit to carry its oversized load across the Skagit River bridge.
-Google Maps already has updated their system to show that the bridge does not actually cross the water.
ABOUT the BRIDGE: Updated 8:01am Friday
-The bridge was built in 1955, it was inspected twice last year, the last time being in November.
-According to the National Bridge Inventory Database:
-Deck condition rating: Satisfactory Condition
-Superstructure condition rating: Fair Condition
-Substructure condition rating: Satisfactory Condition
-Structural Evaluation: Somewhat better than minimum adequacy to tolerate being left in place as is.
-Sufficiency rating: 57.4 (out of 100)
-Status: Functionally Obsolete. (According to the DOT's definition of 'functionally obsolete': “…A bridge can be categorized functionally obsolete a number of ways like having substandard lane widths, or narrow shoulders. Another example would be a bridge that doesn’t have enough vertical clearance for large trucks to pass under, causing repeat hits and damage to the bridge.”)
DETOUR INFO: Updated 11:06am Friday
The detours are, as they always are, not ideal. We just got word of construction on SR9, north of Arlington with traffic alternating in ONE lane. We've also been told by the DOT that they have reports of a commuter from Bellingham to south of downtown Mt Vernon taking 70 minutes. Essentially, at the moment, its sit in heavy traffic on I5, or sit in heavy traffic on SR9. We want to stress that this seems to change every few minutes, so be prepared for whatever. We would budget an extra hour if we were traveling that way.
Here is detour info from the DOT: "I-5 is closed in both directions in Skagit County south of Burlington. Traffic is being diverted off southbound I-5 at Exit 230. For an alternate route, take eastbound SR 20, then south on S. Burlington Blvd. and west on E. College Way (SR 538) to southbound I-5. Northbound I-5 traffic must exit at Exit 227. An alternate route is east to E. College Way to northbound Riverside Drive-S. Burlington Boulevard, then west on George Hopper Road to I-5. To use SR 9 as an alternate northbound route, bypassing Mount Vernon, take Exit 221 at SR 534 east to northbound SR 9 to SR 20 westbound to I-5."
SB is forced off I5 at Exit 230
NB is forced off I5 at Exit 227
REPLACEMENT PLANS: Updated 9:32am
-Gov. Jay Inslee tweeted that the federal government will be putting $1 million of emergency fund towards the bridge replacement. Inslee says after speaking with Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood on Friday morning, they figure the replacement brigde will cost $15 million. Sec. LaHood has promised full support to get this fixed ASAP.
Here is the press release from the NTSB (National Traffic Safety Board).
Long story short, everyone is OK, but this is going to seriously complicate our commute for a long time. PLEASE be safe and patient out there.