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May 23, 2013 at 7:26 PM

I-5 bridge collapses over Skagit River; possibly triggered by truck

Rescue craft can be seen in the foreground of this photo of the I-5 bridge that collapsed over the Skagit River about 7 p.m.. Investigators believe a truck with an over-sized load heading south struck the bridge, which started bouncing, then fell, according to a source.  (Photo by Rick Lund / The Seattle Times)

Rescue craft can be seen in the foreground of this photo of the I-5 bridge that collapsed over the Skagit River about 7 p.m.. Investigators believe a truck with an over-sized load heading south struck the bridge, which started bouncing, then fell, according to a source. (Photo by Rick Lund / The Seattle Times)

A full story is now available here

Seattle Times staff

An Interstate 5 bridge collapsed into the Skagit River at around 7 p.m. Thursday, dumping at least two vehicles in the water north of Mount Vernon.

There were no fatalities reported.

A law-enforcement source said investigators believe a truck with an over-sized load heading south struck the bridge, which started bouncing, then fell.

The source said that 150 feet of the interstate dropped, sending a car, a truck and a travel trailer into the water.

“It’s  a hell of a ride,” the source said.

All three people in those vehicles were rescued. They suffered minor injuries and were taken to the hospital. Two of them got out of their vehicles on their own and the third person had to be taken out on a litter.

Photographs showed a wide gap in the northern side of the bridge, with significant debris in the water.

As it grew dark, dozens of people were  lining the river, holding candles in plastic cups in a vigil for anyone who might have been hurt or killed in the bridge’s collapse

Two of them were Jose Escobedo, 31, and Fernando Ramirez, 37,  both of Mount Vernon.

They said they had a choir practice scheduled for 7 p.m. that was canceled because too few people could make it. Otherwise, choir members would have been crossing the bridge at the time of the collapse.

“I pass that bridge every day,” Ramirez said.

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The bridge, built in 1955, has a sufficiency rating of 57.4 out of 100, according to federal records. That is well below the statewide average rating of 80, according to an Associated Press analysis of federal data, but 759 bridges in the state have a lower sufficiency score.

The bridge is classified as “fracture critical,” meaning it lacks redundancy and one big structural failure can bring the whole thing down, according to the Federal National Bridge Inventory.

According to a 2012 Skagit County Public Works Department, 42 of the county’s 108 bridges that are 50 years or older. The document says eight of the bridges are more than 70 years old and two are over 80.

Washington state was given a C in the American Society of Civil Engineers’ 2013 infrastructure report card and a C- when it came to the state’s bridges. The group said more than a quarter of Washington’s 7,840 bridges are considered structurally deficient of functionally obsolete.

Seattle Times staff reporters Brian Rosenthal, Jennifer Sullivan, Steve Miletich, Alexa Vaughn and Rick Lund contributed to this report.

0 Comments | More in The Blotter, Traffic & Transit | Topics: bridge collapse, i-5, Mount Vernon

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