WASHINGTON STATE (NEWS1130) – The I-5 Skagit River Bridge has collapsed in Washington State.
The collapse happened between Burlington and Mount Vernon at around 7 p.m.
Marine rescue boats rescued three people and had them transported to hospital for evaluation. No one was killed.
I-5 is closed in both directions between Burlington and Mount Vernon.
One caller to Komo News Radio says he was there when the bridge collapsed. He claims a large flat bed truck is to blame.
“That caused the collapse. It hit the steel girder. It was in the right-hand lane, I was in the left-hand lane about 50 feet in front of the truck. The truck struck the very first steel girder on the right-hand side. When it got over in the right-hand lane it started to get down in height, if he would have been in the fast lane, he would have cleared. The right-hand top corner of the box struck the corner of the bridge and made it collapse. I watched the whole thing in my mirror.”
Chief John Batiste with Washington State Patrol says the investigation is targeting the truck.
“The size of the load he was carrying appeared to cause a problem, causing him to strike the bridge. We are talking to the truck driver. We are inspecting the truck.”
But this caller says he saw the truck, and doesn’t think it caused the collapse.
“We were northbound on the south side of the bridge, so we were maybe 100 feet from the metal structure. To the left of us was a semi and it was open on each side, like you know how you see a semi with a trailer and it’s all enclosed, but this was a blue trailer, like I’ve heard other people state, and behind this truck was a wide load pilot vehicle. So, that must have been the semi there and the driver was out. I didn’t notice any damage on the trailer of the semi.”
He says he could only make two assumptions. “Either the semi must have been too tall. Thousands of trucks go through there, was this guy driving a semi two feet too tall? It didn’t appear to be an extremely tall vehicle, it could’ve been the bridge was already collapsing as the trailer was going through.”
The Skagit River Bridge is four lanes and has major steel girders criss-crossing over the top.
The bridge is part of more than 150 bridges in Washington State deemed structurally deficient by the State Department of Transportation.
There are four bridges along the I-5 on a list of those needing repairs, including the one in Skagit, also referred to as the Blackburn Street Bridge, which was built in 1954.
The instructions as of September 2011 was to monitor the bridge with inspections.
The Department of Transportation says the bridges don’t necessarily pose a risk to the public.
Any witnesses to the Skagit River Bridge collapse are asked to call Washington State Patrol at (360) 654-1204.