Highway Bridge Collapses in Washington State

3 taken to hospitals after cars fall in Skagit River

By Newser Editors and Wire Services

Posted May 23, 2013 10:00 PM CDT | Updated May 24, 2013 5:00 AM CDT

(Newser) – An Interstate 5 bridge over a river collapsed yesterday evening, dumping two vehicles into the water and sparking a rescue effort by boats and divers who searched the chilly waterway in Skagit County, north of Seattle. Authorities said it appeared nobody was killed, but three people were injured in the bridge failure that raised the question about the safety of aging spans and cut off the main route between Seattle and Canada. "We don't think anyone else went into the water," said Marcus Deyerin, a spokesman for the Northwest Washington Incident Management Team. Three people were reported in stable condition at local hospitals.

A portion of the four-lane bridge over the Skagit River collapsed about 7pm, said a state trooper. At a press conference, authorities said a semi truck struck the bridge, which was about 50 feet above the water, causing the collapse. Witnesses tell Northwest Cable News they saw the truck, which was carrying an oversize load, hit the bridge's beams shortly before the collapse. The bridge is not considered structurally deficient but is listed as being "functionally obsolete"—meaning that the design is outdated, according to a database compiled by the Federal Highway Administration. The bridge was built in 1955 and has a sufficiency rating of 57.4 out of 100, according to federal records—well below the statewide average rating of 80, per AP data.

In this photo provided by NWCN, people look on after the Interstate 5 bridge collapsed over the Skagit River in Skagit County, Wash., Thursday.
In this photo provided by NWCN, people look on after the Interstate 5 bridge collapsed over the Skagit River in Skagit County, Wash., Thursday.   (AP Photo/NWCN, Selina Dziura)
In this photo provided by Francisco Rodriguez, a man is seen sitting atop a car that fell into the Skagit River as a rescue boat approaches.
In this photo provided by Francisco Rodriguez, a man is seen sitting atop a car that fell into the Skagit River as a rescue boat approaches.   (AP Photo/Francisco Rodriguez)
Rescue workers form a human chain as they begin to remove a woman from a smashed pickup truck that fell into the Skagit River after the collapse.
Rescue workers form a human chain as they begin to remove a woman from a smashed pickup truck that fell into the Skagit River after the collapse.   (AP Photo/Francisco Rodriguez)
Rescue workers look over the edge where a portion of the Interstate 5 bridge collapsed into the Skagit River in Mount Vernon, Wash., Thursday, May 23, 2013.
Rescue workers look over the edge where a portion of the Interstate 5 bridge collapsed into the Skagit River in Mount Vernon, Wash., Thursday, May 23, 2013.   (AP Photo/Joe Nicholson)
A portion of the Interstate-5 bridge is submerged after it collapsed into the Skagit river dumping vehicles and people into the water in Mount Vernon, Wash.
A portion of the Interstate-5 bridge is submerged after it collapsed into the Skagit river dumping vehicles and people into the water in Mount Vernon, Wash.   (AP Photo/Joe Nicholson)
The collapsed Interstate-5 bridge is seen at dusk submerged after collapsing into the Skagit River, dumping vehicles and people into the water, in Mount Vernon, Wash., Thursday, May 23, 2013.
The collapsed Interstate-5 bridge is seen at dusk submerged after collapsing into the Skagit River, dumping vehicles and people into the water, in Mount Vernon, Wash., Thursday, May 23, 2013.   (AP Photo/Elaine Thompson)
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