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Washington DOT Opens Temporary Bridge on I-5

While questions are still being asked as to why the Skagit Bridge on interstate 5 was allowed to reach such a dire state, Washington Department of Transportation has begun full-fledge efforts to replace the bridge, which collapsed last month. Until last Wednesday, traffic traveling the bridge's original route was detoured through Mount Vernon and Burlington but is now being directed along a temporary bridge until the replacement is complete.

The Skagit Bridge, which connects traffic between Seattle and Vancouver, collapsed after a large truck's load swiped along a previously damaged portion of the overhead brackets. Officials report that the damage had been investigated by the Department of Transportation previously but the investigation concluded that the damage did not warrant an emergency.

The previous damage was gradually sustained after repeated occurrences similar to that which lead to the eventual collapse. Since the bridge is a main artery for tourist and trade travelers, there is a significant population of trucks traveling its path. With the original model, trucks with large loads could easily collide with the overhead portions of the bridge on the sides of the road where they bend down into a bow. The damaged portion was investigated and even superficially repaired prior to the incident but the damage appears to have gone deeper than the DOT anticipated. The official story of the collapse reports that the northern portion of the bridge crumbled after a truck, which merged to the right trying to avoid collision with another car, swiped along the same area. The collapse sent a truck and one other car into the Skagit River. While no fatalities occurred, three injured victims were rescued from the river.

Reports reveal that the original bridge was the travel path for over 71,000 vehicles a day. The new and temporary path is narrower, reducing speed to 40 miles an hour, which will create a longer travel time for regular travelers. The Federal Transportation Department will be paying for all but $1 million of the nearly $18 million repair costs, which includes the permanent replacement to the bridge as well as the temporary structure.

Many wonder whether the collapse could have been avoided if the DOT had taken extra measures to further investigate the damage. While no serious injuries were sustained, a tragedy like that could have easily ended much worse for innocent drivers on the bridge. While driving laws require certain behavior from those operating vehicles on the roads, those drivers trust that local and federal authorities would provide them with safe roads and travel paths. Many injury accidents occur due to negligence in the design and maintenance of the roads, making city and state officials liable for the damages. If you were injured in a car accident that was occurred on a dangerous road, contact the Seattle personal injury attorneys at Law Office of J.D. Smith, PLLC today and learn more about how the firm can assist you in claiming compensation for your injuries.