Local bridges still structurally deficient a year after the Skagit River bridge collapse
It’s been a year since an oversized truck knocked a section of an Interstate 5 bridge into the Skagit River and traffic is flowing over the replacement span, but dozens of other aging bridges in Washington are still listed as deficient.
In September, a report was released showing that 4 bridges in Grays Harbor and 2 bridges in Aberdeen that are in disrepair and at risk of collapse if hit hard enough in the wrong place. The Wildcat Creek and Wreck Creek bridges are both classified as “structurally deficient.”
An Associated Press analysis identified about 50 bridges that are “structurally deficient” or “fracture critical”. This included the Chehalis River Bridge and the Heron Street Bridge in Aberdeen, which are both classified as “structurally deficient”.
A bridge is “structurally deficient” when it is in need of rehabilitation or replacement because at least one major component is deemed in poor or worse. A bridge is deemed “fracture critical” when it doesn’t have redundant protections and is at risk of collapse if a single, vital component fails.
The Skagit River bridge that collapsed in May was a fracture critical bridge, but it was actually not in disrepair like some of its peers.
Officials say that despite the classifications, the bridges are not dangerous and are monitored closely.
Two vehicles with three people fell into water on May 23, 2013. No one died, but state Trooper Sean O’Connell was killed a week later while detouring traffic through Mount Vernon and Burlington.
A temporary span was in place in a month. A permanent span opened in September, and work was completed in November to square off the arched support beams and raise the clearance on the I-5 Skagit River bridge.
Plans to create an online map of state bridges for truckers are currently stalled for lack of funding.