The effort to replace the I-5 bridge that collapsed into the Skagit River last month has hit a milestone. On Monday, workers installed the framework for part of a temporary replacement that will eventually support the bridge’s north-bound lanes. There will be a second span to handle south-bound traffic.
Travis Phelps, a spokesman for the Washington State Department of Transportation, said it’s an important step in getting the temporary bridge open later this month. “Once we get both spans in place and locked down to the bridge piers, then you’ll see crews dropping in the steel bridge deck and eventually paving a road surface over the bridge,” he said.
The bridge piers are the columns that support the structure over the water. Before the temporary replacement can be open for traffic, Phelps said divers will need to inspect the bridge piers for any damage. “we’re also using some sonar and video we took during the NTSB investigation to see what shape those piers are in and exactly what we think we might need to inspect once we get down there,” he said.
The transportation department is aiming to have the temporary bridge span open sometime during the third week of June. Once it is in place, drivers should expect a narrower roadway and a slower speed limit. Phelps said it should be able to handle most commercial traffic.
Officials have said that the temporary bridge span will be paid for by the federal government.