The Skagit River bridge is back open, less than a month after it collapsed when a truck carrying an over size load struck it. Now businesses are hoping for a quick recovery.
There were only about a dozen cars in the parking lot of Burlington’s Coastal Farm & Ranch Wednesday afternoon, and that was a welcome improvement over the past 28 days.
Manager Kelley Haynes said she started checking the DOT website compulsively on Tuesday waiting for the Skagit River Bridge to reopen.
“I was literally clicking all day,” she said. “I was like, 'Oh! The dumpster is gone! Yay!'”
Like many local businesses, Coastal Farm & Ranch got crushed in the aftermath of the May 23rd bridge collapse that cut off I-5 and forced long detours onto side streets. The store lost 40 percent of its daily business during the closure. With customers finally returning, however, Haynes said it’s all water under the bridge.
“I had a customer from Stanwood come in and we high-fived because he was really thrilled.”
On the first day of the temporary fix, traffic moved smoothly across the bridge, despite a new 40 mph speed limit. Troopers from the Washington State Patrol were busy handing out reminders, some friendly, some not-so-friendly, of the speed zone that stretches for three miles between Highway 20 and College Way.
“I clocked one at 74 miles an hour,” said Trooper Sue Harbour. “I was like, what are you thinking? I was pretty shocked, actually.” Harbour says another speeder was nabbed doing 80 mph.
Oversized trucks must still use the existing detour. However, what was a 20 minute work-around is now less than half that. Meantime, lots of people celebrated their new found freedom by enjoying simple luxuries, like a long overdue trip to Costco.
“It’s much less of a chore,” said Bruce Robertson. “I have plenty of time now. It feels good.”
Keep in mind, though, this isn't the end of the road. The bridge will close for at least another two weeks in the fall when the permanent replacement is installed.
“I guess we'll be well prepared,” said Costco shopper Terry Ferrall