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Skagit River Bridge Collapses in Washington State, Causing Injuries
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On Thursday evening, the I-5 Bridge over Washington State’s Skagit River collapsed, throwing two vehicles into the water, and resulting in at least three injuries. While the source of the collapse is still unknown at this time, the incident is drawing attention to the safety of Washington’s older bridges.

Built in 1955, the 1,111-foot bridge was the main route linking Seattle with Canada, with an average of 71,000 cars using the route daily. At about 7pm on Thursday night, a portion of the I-5 that spans above the Skagit River collapsed, tossing two cars into the water.

  
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While the cause is not conclusive at this time, authorities speculate that the bridge may have collapsed when a commercial truck hit a portion of the structure. The National Transportation Safety Board has already begun investigating further into the cause of the bridge’s collapse.

Miraculously, no one was killed in the bridge’s failure, although three people were sent to local hospitals, all with non-critical injuries. One of the victims was Dan Sligh, who was driving with his wife on their way to a camping trip when the section they were driving on collapsed beneath them. The couple’s car was thrown into the water, and after being rescued by local authorities, the couple was sent to a nearby hospital with minor injuries. In an interview with KIRO-TV, Sligh says, “You’re kind of pinching yourself and realize you’re lucky to be alive.”

Transportation representatives have advised commuters to avoid the I-5 for the next few days as traffic is already being re-routed off of the bridge.

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Already, the Skagit River Bridge collapse has sparked widespread attention to the fact that much of the state’s key infrastructure is structurally outdated. The evidence is piling up that there are plenty more potentially hazardous structures like the Skagit Bridge. Based on a recent report by the Public Works Department, nearly 40 percent of the bridges in Skagit County are 50 years or older. In the most recent review by the American Society of Civil Engineers, Washington’s bridges were given a “C-” for structural safety. Of note, the Federal Highway Administration database had labeled the Skagit River Bridge as “functionally obsolete.”

One thing is certain: the Skagit River Bridge collapse is sure to spur intensive investigation into the structural soundness of the state’s infrastructure. Hopefully this will lead to the eventual reconstruction of obsolete and unsafe bridges.



Image Credit: KOMO News twitter feed



 

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