Skip to main content
Advertising

Originally published May 25, 2013 at 11:59 AM | Page modified May 26, 2013 at 9:33 AM

  • Share:
           
  • Comments (1)
  • Print

Officials say bridge collapse should prompt review

The collapse of an interstate highway bridge in northern Washington state should be a wake-up call that prompts an expansive safety review, according to National Transportation Safety Board officials.

Associated Press

Most Popular Comments
Hide / Show comments
I have been hearing that Mullen trucking regularly transports drilling equipment to... MORE

advertising

SEATTLE —

The collapse of an interstate highway bridge in northern Washington state should be a wake-up call that prompts an expansive safety review, according to National Transportation Safety Board officials.

Investigators are trying to determine why a bridge over Interstate 5 about 60 miles north of Seattle collapsed after a truck clipped a steel truss and what can be done to prevent similar accidents. Officials have scheduled updates throughout the day Sunday.

NTSB Chairwoman Debbie Hersman on Saturday examined the scene in the Skagit River where two vehicles into the water. Three people involved escaped with non-life threatening injuries.

An investigation by The Associated Press suggests similar accidents could happen elsewhere. Thousands of bridges around the U.S. are kept standing by engineering design, rather than sheer size or redundant protections. Such spans may be one freak accident or mistake away from collapse.

Bridge regulators call them "fracture critical" bridges, because if a single, vital component is compromised, they can crumple.

Hersman's team will spend about a week inspecting the I-5 bridge, talking to the truck driver whose vehicle hit it and examining maintenance documents and accident reports.

Other large vehicles struck the Skagit River bridge before the collapse Thursday, she noted. Investigators are using a high tech 3-D video camera to review the scene and attempt to pinpoint where the bridge failure began. Officials say they are working to find out whether the collapse was a fluke or a sign of bigger problems.

Hersman does not expect the investigation to delay removal of debris from the river or work on temporary replacement or repair plans. State and federal officials will work together on the investigation, she said.

They'll be watching for safety issues that could affect other bridges.

"The results can be very catastrophic," Hersman said. "We're very fortunate in this situation."

Washington state officials said Saturday that it will take time to find both short- and long-term fixes for the I-5 bridge.

While the NTSB finishes its inspection, state workers will begin cleaning up the river. Next, a temporary solution will be put in place to return traffic to Washington state's most important north-south roadway.

Motorists should not expect to drive on I-5 between Mount Vernon and Burlington for many weeks and possibly months, said Washington Transportation Department spokesman Bart Treece.

About 71,000 vehicles use that stretch of highway every day.

Officials were looking for a temporary, pre-fabricated bridge to replace the 160-foot section that failed, Gov. Jay Inslee said Friday. That option could be in place in weeks. Otherwise, it could be months before a replacement can be built, the governor said.

Inslee said it will cost $15 million to repair the bridge. The federal government has promised $1 million in emergency dollars and more money could come later, according to Washington's congressional delegation.

---

Contact Donna Blankinship at https://twitter.com/dgblankinship

News where, when and how you want it

Email Icon

Hurry! Last two weeks to save 15%.

Hurry! Last two weeks to save 15%.

Reserve your copy of "The Seattle Sketcher," the long-awaited book by staff artist Gabriel Campanario, for the special price of just $29.95.

Advertising

Partner Video

Advertising

Career Center Blog

Career Center Blog

How to tame an unruly resume


Advertising
The Seattle Times

The door is closed, but it's not locked.

Take a minute to subscribe and continue to enjoy The Seattle Times for as little as 99 cents a week.

Subscription options ►

Already a subscriber?

We've got good news for you. Unlimited seattletimes.com content access is included with most subscriptions.

Subscriber login ►