DOT: Skagit River bridge on I-5 will have more clearance

ASSOCIATED PRESSJuly 24, 2013 

— The Washington Department of Transportation plans additional work to raise the clearance on the Interstate 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

Several bridge supports will also be retrofitted with reinforced steel components to add strength if the bridge is struck again.

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.

Drivers can expect overnight lane and directional closures of I-5 to complete this work. WSDOT has traffic cameras in place to view the work and will post pictures throughout the construction period.

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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