Traffic is flowing normally today over the newly-opened I-5 bridge over the Skagit River near Burlington. The steel truss bridge collapsed into the river last May after a semi carrying an oversize load hit several support struts. Over the weekend, the temporary bridge spans put in place shortly after the accident were replaced by a permanent new span.
Angela Walden, co-owner of Rocky Mountain Chocolates in Burlington, spoke at a celebration at the site of the new bridge. She says her business and others took a hit from the massive traffic disruption caused by the collapse. But, she says, they got a boost from government officials and national media attention.
"We had an enormous influx of support. All the way from Washington, I had people calling me from New York City, ordering chocolate. Thanks to the community, they made us feel important" says Walden.
Governor Jay Inslee spoke just before the highway finally opened, noting the complex project was completed in less than four months.
"We needed to move quickly with repairs, because this corridor is an absolutely vital link to the economy of the state of Washington. Millions of dollars of freight and passenger traffic move across this every day" says Inslee.
Inslee gave credit to the federal government for quickly coming through with money that covered most of the cost of the bridge replacement. He urged lawmakers in Olympia to approve more funding for maintaining and improving the safety of the state's highway infrastructure.
Copyright 2013 KPLU