More clearance planned for Skagit River I-5 bridge

MOUNT VERNON — The Washington Transportation Department plans additional work to raise the clearance on the I-5 bridge over the Skagit River.

Officials told Skagit County commissioners Tuesday a new project would put the trusses 18 feet above the roadway, the Skagit Valley Herald reported. Current trusses are just 15 feet, 6 inches at the fog line.

“This bridge is the lowest steel structure in the state of Washington over I-5,” said Polly Brooks, assistant project engineer.

The work this fall will follow the construction of a permanent replacement for the section that collapsed May 23 when a truss was hit by an oversize truck.

The bridge reopened June 19 with a temporary span and the replacement is expected to be in place in early September.

The 58-year-old bridge carries an average of 71,000 vehicles a day.

Raising the clearance will give the bridge a more rectangular design.

“We are increasing bridge height to move more freight with less risk,” state Department of Transportation traffic engineer Dina Swires.

The temporary span and replacement cost nearly $18 million. The federal Transportation Department is paying for all but about $1 million of the work.

The availability of nearly $3 million more in federal money for additional work was a surprise.

“This opportunity just surfaced,” Swires said. “We didn’t realize we had the money available.”

The retrofit is scheduled to be completed by Nov. 23. It will require seven full closures and 36 partial closures, mostly at night.

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