Interstate 5 | KUOW News and Information

Interstate 5

Photo/Washington State Patrol

The Washington State Department of Transportation has confirmed what drivers have been suspecting: Crashes are causing more traffic delays.

State crews cleared more than 15,000 traffic incidents in the final quarter of last year, 20 percent more than in 2015.

FLICKR PHOTO/HEATHER (CC BY 2.0)/HTTPS://FLIC.KR/P/3HVNXD

As bad as the traffic was on Monday, the propane truck rollover on I-5 could have been catastrophic.

Tanker trucks are basically giant movable bombs. So says Mark Hallenbeck, director of the Washington State Transportation Center, a think tank at the University of Washington.

Oregon lawmakers say they want more answers before they'll agree to proceed with a plan to build a new I-5 bridge across the Columbia River.

KUOW Photo/Kara McDermott

There are more than 200 bridges in Washington that could collapse if a key part fails. They’re classified as being fracture-critical, just like the Interstate 5 span that plummeted into the Skagit River in May after it was hit by an oversized load. Out of those fracture-critical bridges, at least three others have been struck multiple times in the past five years. Experts say repeated bridge strikes can potentially cause catastrophic problems.

Failed Bridges In Washington's History

Jun 24, 2013
WSDOT Photo

Last month's I-5 Skagit River bridge collapse is just one of a number of major bridge failures in Washington's history. Washington is home to four of the nation's 11 floating bridges, two of which have sunk. Here is a look at the state's highest-profile bridge failures.

KUOW Photo/Derek Wang

It’s been about a month since a truck hauling an oversized load struck an I-5 bridge and sent it plunging into the Skagit River. Truckers have a tough job navigating infrastructure challenges such as obsolete bridges and increasingly congested highways. To learn more about the challenges, KUOW’s Derek Wang went to trucking school.

Failed Bridges In Washington

The I-5 Skagit River bridge collapse is just one of a number of major bridge failures in Washington's history. Washington is home to four of the nation's 11 floating bridges, two of which have sunk.

KUOW Photo/Jeannie Yandel

From I-5 North, you can look to your left and see the Skagit Valley Food Co-op. It’s right in downtown Mount Vernon, just south of the Skagit River and the bridge collapse. Jodie Buller is the Outreach and Marketing Coordinator at the co-op, and the day after the bridge collapse, she was feeling pretty optimistic.

“Traffic wasn’t bad downtown,” she recalls. “And people were in that camaraderie zone, you know? A lot of checking in, and then it was just dead in here over Memorial Day weekend.”  

There's a lot of water in Washington state, and therefore a lot of bridges. Transportation for America put together the numbers of structurally deficient bridges by state county and compared Washington to the rest of the country. There's good news: Washington is ranked 46 out of 51 states (including Washington, D.C.) in structurally deficient bridges. Pennsylvania performed the worst with 24.5 percent of bridges considered deficient.

Traffic is rolling across the repaired Interstate 5 bridge over the Skagit River Wednesday morning, marking the end of  a hasty, round-the-clock salvage and reconstruction job.

Work started less than four weeks ago, when an oversize load brought down the vital bridge.  Northwest Washington drivers and businesses are relishing a return to normal.

Flickr Photo/WSDOT

Federal investigators released a preliminary report Tuesday about last month’s I-5 bridge collapse over the Skagit River. The report says the driver of the truck that struck the bridge before it fell had moved over closer to the edge of the bridge because of a passing truck.

Flickr Photo/WSDOT

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.

Rep. Jim McDermott And Rite Of Spring

May 29, 2013
Wikipedia Photo

News From Congress: Rep. Jim McDermott
Rep. Jim McDermott of Washington's 7th District in Congress joins us to discuss how congressmen and woman have become essential advocates for safer infrastructure after a crisis hits their district. McDermott is calling for more resources to avoid disasters like the Skagit River bridge collapse. Also, the latest on the IRS, the Affordable Care Act and the Alaska Pebble Mine. 

Rite Of Spring
Today marks the 100th anniversary of the Paris premiere of Igor Stravinsky’s “Rite of Spring,” with choreography by Vaslav Nijinsky.  The performance provoked a riot.  Critics and audience members wrote afterwards there was so much noise that the dancers couldn’t hear the music over the audience boos.  What made "Rite of Spring" so provocative?  Why has its centennial been marked by contemporary artists and academics around the world? Marcie Sillman and Dave Beck explore the history and legacy of "The Rite of Spring."

T-Shirts Poke Fun At Bridge Collapse

May 28, 2013
Slow Loris Shirts

An I-5 bridge collapsed into the Skagit River last week after a truck hit an overhead support beam. Once it was clear that no one was seriously injured, a local t-shirt company decided to have a little fun. Slow Loris Shirts founder Jessica Lynch says she laughed when she heard the state got a C- grade on its bridges.

The Interstate 5 bridge over Skagit River collapsed May 23, 2013 after an oversized load hit the frame while going across.
KUOW Photo/Derek Wang

Washington state’s top priority is fixing the section of the I-5 bridge that collapsed into the Skagit River last week, according to Governor Jay Inslee. Inslee announced plans Sunday that could lead to a temporary replacement in June, and a permanent fix in September.

Ruby DeLuna

Thursday night's bridge collapse has put a spotlight on truckers who carry oversized loads. Preliminary reports suggest that a truck that clipped a bridge support is what caused the spectacular collapse.

Harley Soltes

A parade of people who live and work near the collapsed bridge in Mt. Vernon continued to visit the scene today to get a first-hand look at the damage, snap photos and swap news about the accident.

“I’m scared to drive over other bridges,” said Jerry Olmstead, who works in Mt. Vernon and crosses this bridge several times a week. “What if another bridge in Washington goes?”

Updates: I-5 Skagit River Bridge

May 24, 2013
AP Photo/Francisco Rodriguez

We’ll get updates from the Washington Department of Transportation, Governor Jay Inslee and the American Society of Civil Engineers.

How Does This Affect Bellingham And Regional Tourism?
This is the start of the summer tourism season and Bellingham has one of its major events, the Ski to Sea, scheduled for this weekend. Will the bridge collapse affect tourism in the north Puget Sound area?

Just prior to the I-5 bridge collapse Thursday night north of Seattle, eyewitnesses report an oversized load struck a portion of the bridge’s steel superstructure. That’s the frame that’s key to holding the bridge up.

Susan Reidel

MOUNT VERNON, Wash. (AP) — Washington Gov. Jay Inslee has declared a state of emergency in three counties around a collapsed Interstate 5 bridge.

Your Take On The News

May 24, 2013
WSDOT Photo

We'll get live updates from the scene of the bridge collapse in Skagit County from KUOW reporter Derek Wang.

In a major policy speech Thursday, President Obama defended his administration's use of unmanned drones, but vowed to scale back their use in the future. He also renewed efforts to close the prison at Guantanamo Bay. What are the unanswered questions about President Obama's counter-terrorism policy? What can we expect from the President moving forward?

The Seattle Mayor's race got a big shakeup recently when Tim Burgess abruptly dropped out of the contest. How will this affect the rest of the candidates? Who does it help and who does it hurt?

And on his first day on the job, interim Seattle Police Chief Jim Pugel made some changes to his staff. Does this signal more changes to come at the SPD?

What stories that caught your attention this week? Call us at 800.289.5869, email weekday@kuow.org or send us a tweet @WeekdayKUOW.

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UPDATES: I-5 Skagit River Bridge
We'll get updates from Travis Phelps, WSDOT communications manager, and Larry Ehl, publisher of Transportation Issues Daily and former WSDOT federal relations manager.

Science News
Alan Boyle is science editor for NBC News Digital. From 3-D printed pizzas to the effects of climate change on tornados, he brings us the latest news in the world of science.

Northwest Folklife Festival
The 42nd annual Northwest Folklife Festival kicks off today. What are the can't-miss performances, exhibits and events? We'll get a preview from Folklife's head of programming Debbie Fant. We'll explore  the history of organized labor in Washington state with labor archivist Conor Casey. And we'll hear the tunes of Celtic fiddle music duo Brandon Vance and Mark Minkler.

Alternate Routes Around I-5 Skagit River Bridge

May 24, 2013
WSDOT

WSDOT is asking drivers to allow ample time for travel through the I-5 Skagit River area. Both directions of I-5 are detoured in Skagit County.

Photo of Aleta Borschowa, WSDOT Project Engineer
KUOW / Derek Wang

Winter is usually not the season for road construction, but this year, things are a little different. Friday marks the start of eleven planned closures of some Interstate 5 ramps.