With travel up over the upcoming holiday weekend, a lot of people could be headed north. Among the sights are the final stages of repairs on the Skagit River Bridge that partially collapsed back in May.
KING 5’s Jake Whittenberg was given exclusive access as crews say drivers expect another full freeway closure soon.
Even during the holiday weekend, crews will be construction the new permanent section of the Skagit River Bridge. I-5 traffic still flows over the temporary span after the 160-foot section collapsed back in May, forcing cars to plunge into the Skagit River.
“If you come by here and you look over, you can see people just about the same height as you are working on the bridge. You can wave out the window at them" said Dave Chesson, WSDOT spokesperson.
The latest milestone: Eight girders are now lined into place. They'll support the actual interstate. Each one weights 84 tons.
Steel pilings are now driven deep into the riverbed and will support a new rail system. And in a feat of modern engineering, it will be used to slowly slide the giant section of new roadway in to replace the temporary section.
“I would call it amazing,” said Chesson.
That process will require a full shutdown of the freeway for another day or two sometime in mid-September.
“We hope that will be a very short period of time,” said Don Wick with the Economic Development Association.
Wick says some businesses were crippled during the closure when traffic was down and drivers were forced onto side roads. But the Department of Revenue now says business is returned to full strength and local and Canadian traffic is flowing normally.
“I think what people found that the bridge was put together faster than anyone thought, and business has returned to normal to a good degree here in Skagit County," said Wick.
WSDOT reports work is on track to finish the span by October 1.
The new span is designed to be stronger than the section that collapsed. The remaining span will stay the same, labeled “functionally obsolete” by state standards.
KING 5's Jake Whittenberg contributed to this report.