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Driver cited after oversized load hits Nooksack River Bridge

A mototrcyclist and other drivers head north on the Interstate 5 bridge over the Nooksack River in Ferndale, Thursday, July 23, 2015. A truck with an oversized load struck the northbound bridge Wednesday night, July 22, but didn’t cause significant damage.
A mototrcyclist and other drivers head north on the Interstate 5 bridge over the Nooksack River in Ferndale, Thursday, July 23, 2015. A truck with an oversized load struck the northbound bridge Wednesday night, July 22, but didn’t cause significant damage. The Bellingham Herald

A truck hauling half of a modular home struck the Nooksack River Bridge on Interstate 5, backing up traffic for hours while crews assessed the damage Wednesday night, July 22.

Curtis B. Moseley, 48, of Zillah was driving north on I-5 just before 9 p.m. while hauling the right half of a modular home when the roof of the home struck the corner of the bridge, said Washington State Patrol spokesman Mark Francis.

The truck would have had to move closer to the center line to cross the bridge safely, Francis said. However, barrels blocked the left lane while Washington State Department of Transportation crews painted the bridge, forcing the truck to stay in the right lane.

The pilot car in front of the oversized load crossed the bridge closer to the center line, Francis said, and it apparently didn’t warn the truck to move out of the right lane.

The impact didn’t cause any damage to the bridge, said WSDOT spokesman Travis Phelps. Crews were out investigating until around 11:40 p.m., and northbound traffic was partially blocked for nearly three hours.

The truck was with Advantage Transport, a Zillah company that moves manufactured and modular homes. They were headed to British Columbia. Francis estimated thousands of dollars in damage to the home’s roof.

Moseley was given a $187 ticket for violating the oversize permit. Restrictions posted on the DOT website state, “All loads shall travel the centerline of the Bridge,” effective June 25, 2014. Since the Nooksack River Bridge painting blocked the left lane, the truck could have pulled to the shoulder and had the barrels moved, Francis said.

The driver, not the company, was cited because the driver is ultimately responsible for the load, even though he had pilot cars, Francis said.

The Nooksack River Bridge painting project, which should be completed this fall, will help protect the steel on the structure for around 20 years, according to the DOT. The northbound bridge that was struck Wednesday was built in 1955; the southbound bridge was built in 1971.

Francis recalled the Skagit River Bridge collapse from May 2013, in which an oversized, overheight vehicle struck a portion of the I-5 bridge and caused several vehicles to fall into the river. In January 2015, the DOT announced a new online tool that allows truck drivers to more easily research bridge heights and potential conflicts.

However, the trip planner has a disclaimer that states it cannot be guaranteed due to new construction, pavement overlays and lane reconfiguration.

The DOT disclaimer also states, “It is the responsibility of the permit applicant to check, or prerun, the proposed route and provide for safe maneuvers around the obstruction or detours as necessary.”

Reach Wilson Criscione at 360-756-2803 or wilson.criscione@bellinghamherald.com.

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