BURLINGTON — When the I-5 bridge collapsed, it created a huge headache for residents who live in Skagit County.
Residents at a public meeting with WSDOT officials say they are literally counting down the days until the temporary bridge is set up.
It’s not only a lifeline to their economy but it’s also critical to ending the spike of traffic accidents since the I-5 bridge collapse.
When will the temporary bridge be in place?
That is what everyone wanted to know, and WSDOT had this answer.
“That is the magical question, isn’t it? Officially, it will be sometime in mid-June; that’s 2 weeks,” said WSDOT official Jay Drye.
“It’s a rough estimate at this point and realistically it could be the third week of June before the temporary bridge goes up.”
“This pain and suffering won’t last very much longer,” said WSDOT official Dina Swires.
But many Burlington and Mount Vernon residents have already had enough.
“Nobody was out there Tuesday working on the bridge; I didn’t go out there last night because I was just frustrated that no one was working on the temporary bridge,” said Burlington resident Tom Shehan.
About 70,000 vehicles, including tractor-trailers, are using detours and even neighborhood streets to get around the huge gap over 1-5. Since the collapse, Skagit County officials say there has been a spike in crashes, specifically in the Mount Vernon area. With summer around the corner, there is even more concern.
“Traffic is going to be worse, because every teacher and student … are going to be out and they are not familiar with traffic revision; it’s going to be absolutely worse,” said Shehan.
WSDOT says the NTSB turned over the scene to them on Wednesday.
At the site of the collapse, the steel structure is already coming together. They will be building the temporary bridge from the back side and pushing it in once it is time to install the replacement. In the meantime there is still a lot of cleanup to do. WSDOT says they have retrieved most of the debris from the water, the leftovers could be a challenge to fish out.
Not everyone who showed up tonight had angry words
“You are doing an amazing job, hats off to you, thank you,” said one man.
WSDOT says they will also have to build the pedestals to hold up the temporary bridge.
One of the challenges they are facing is the water level of the Skagit River rising. They still plan to send another group of divers to check the bridge is safe from below.