Bridge to be renamed for state trooper

When the state finishes rebuilding the collapsed portion of Skagit River bridge on I-5, it will be named for trooper Sean O’Connell who was killed in May while working on a detour route during the span’s closure.

It will be called the “Trooper Sean M. O’Connell, Jr. Memorial Bridge” under a resolution unanimously passed today by the Washington State Transportation Commission. The Department of Transportation will install signs once the temporary portion of the bridge is permanently fixed this fall.

Commissioners made the decision following presentations from Captain Jeff Sass of the Washington State Patrol’s Marysville office, Sen. Kevin Ranker, D-Orcas Island and Mount Vernon Mayor Jill Boudreau.

“We don’t willy nilly name things for people,” commission chairman Dan O’Neal of Mason County said. “Your story is a moving story and a very big part of how we look at this.”

The bridge collapsed May 23 after getting struck by a truck with an oversized load. A week later O’Connell died after a box truck collided with his motorcycle on the detour near Conway.

Sass said an investigation into the cause of the collision is still under way.

“The collision scene is not that clear,” he said when asked by a commissioner if the truck driver had been cited. “It is very difficult to say (the truck driver) did something wrong.”

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