Gov. Inslee: "We are all going to have to pull together in the next several months."
Three people were pulled from the water after the north and south bound lanes of the I-5 bridge spanning the Skagit River between Burlington and Mount Vernon collapsed just after 7 p.m. Thursday, May 23.
Eyewitnesses reported a truck collided with the bridge before the collapse. A semi-truck traveling southbound in the right-hand lane is being inspected according to Washington State Patrol Chief John Batiste. In a press conference last night he said, "The size of the load appeared to create a problem."
Governor Jay Inslee said, "We know that we are going to be involved in a very vigorous and diligent effort to get the corridor going North-South again. This is the arterial, the aorta of transportation and commerce and industry of commerce in Western Washington.
"We have already started the process tonight of designing a system and detours to accommodate the time period it will take to replace this bridge.
"This is going to be an opportunity in the upcoming months where we Washingtonians are going to get to show what we do best - which is to pull together to show strength of character, a good degree of patience and good citizenship, to work together to deal with the inconvenience all of us are going to experience because of the disruption of I-5. "
"We are all going to have to pull together in the next several months."
Skagit Valley Sheriff Will Reichardt said the rescue boats were in the water and the first responders were able to reach the area quickly. "We got incredible help from the U.S. Navy helicopter, the local dike district, Snohomish county."
The three people rescued were taken to hospitals. Two were a couple and the other a man who was driving an SUV. All are expected to make a full recovery.
No one else is believed to be in the water. Emergency personnel including divers searched Thursday evening. A new search will be made in the morning just in case.
Inspectors from the National Transportation Safety Board will arrive Friday and will conduct a joint investigation with local and state authorities.
The governor, state patrol chief and sheriff all asked citizens to avoid unnecessary travel in the I-5 corridor.
The section of the interstate is between the George Hopper and College Way exits.
The bridge, built in 1955, is rated functionally obsolete. That rating could result from such things as substandard lane widths, narrow shoulders, not enough vertical clearance.
The I-5 bridge of the Skagit River, rated 47 out of 100, was inspected twice in 2012, once in August, once in November after it was struck by a vehicle according to Washington State Dept. of Transportation.
The WSDOT website includes links to the permit issued to the driver of the truck that carried the oversized load that hit the trusses. The impact resulted in the collapse of the fraction critical bridge.
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