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Nooksack River bridge safe to drive over the Guide; repair slated

A closeup of the bent crossbeam on the Nooksack River bridge at Guide Meridian is shown Monday, Sept. 12.
A closeup of the bent crossbeam on the Nooksack River bridge at Guide Meridian is shown Monday, Sept. 12. Courtesy to The Bellingham Herald

Repairs are in store for the Nooksack River bridge on Guide Meridian south of Lynden, but the span is structurally sound and will remain open in the wake of a crash Monday, Sept. 12.

A truck’s extended winch smacked a crossbeam over the bridge’s northbound span, requiring a short closure while the bridge was inspected late Monday afternoon.

But Guide Meridian, also called state Highway 539, was open for Tuesday’s commute, said Rick Rodda, bridge maintenance supervisor for the state Department of Transportation’s northwest division.

“It was inspected and we’re going to have to do some repairs. It’s not perfect, but it’s structurally OK. It’s safe to drive on,” Rodda said.

DOT officials were meeting Tuesday, Sept. 13, to discuss a timetable and specifics of the repair, he said. Rodda’s crew is involved in a project on the Mount Baker Highway east of Glacier and will finish that work first, he said.

A truck registered to Z Recyclers Inc., which offers metal recycling and sales on Guide Meridian near Hemmi Road, clipped the entry crossbeam called a “portal” about 11 a.m. Monday. The portal sustained visible damage, but remained intact.

No one was injured in the crash. No citation was issued pending a Washington State Patrol investigation.

Dan Thompson, president of Z Recyclers, apologized for the incident in a statement that said the company is cooperating with the investigation. He stressed the company’s strong safety record.

The DOT said the bridge’s 576-foot span carries four lanes of traffic, averaging 15,000 to 16,000 vehicles daily. The steel through-truss bridge was built in 1950.

Crashes involving trucks have caused damage that closed bridges on Interstate 5 over the Skagit River in 2013 and on Slater Road over the Nooksack River in 2012. Both required repairs that caused lengthy delays and detours.

Robert Mittendorf: 360-756-2805, @BhamMitty

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