Temporary Skagit I-5 bridge to open Wednesday morning
Drivers and businesses in Northwest Washington are voicing elation now that there is a firm date for reopening the Interstate 5 bridge over the Skagit River. The Washington Department of Transportation says the temporary replacement bridge will start carrying traffic Wednesday morning.
It took just three and a half weeks to clear the wreckage of the collapsed I-5 bridge and to build a new span across the gap. State transportation secretary Lynn Peterson says the temporary replacement can carry 99 percent of the usual car and truck traffic; no oversize loads will be allowed.
"It is as safe as it was before in terms of regular people just driving over the bridge and regular behavior. If it gets hit, just like any other bridge, we would have an issue," she said.
The lanes on the temporary bridge are slightly narrower, so the speed limit will be reduced from 60 to 40 mph on the span.
Peterson also announced the state has chosen a Spokane-based highway contractor to build a permanent replacement bridge. That fix is scheduled to roll into place in September, which will mean a brief revival of the sluggish detours.