Feds to pay $15.6M to repair, replace Skagit River Bridge

by: Jeff Dubois Updated:

The U.S. Department of Transportation will pay the costs for the temporary Interstate 5 bridge across the Skagit River as well as 90 percent of the new bridge that will be put into place this fall.

It’s a $15.6 million investment that will help get traffic rolling again on I-5.

"The livelihoods of a lot of families have been seriously disrupted without this very critical artery open for travel,” said Sen. Patty Murray, who chairs the Senate Transportation Appropriations Subcommittee.

An oversized truck hit a segment of the bridge and caused it to collapse on May 23.  A car and a passenger truck towing a trailer plunged into the river, but no one was seriously hurt.

See photos of the bridge collapse here  and  photos of a rescue operation at the bridge here.

I-5 drivers said they are relieved to hear federal funding has been secured and will keep the construction moving forward.

The detour across a secondary bridge has lengthened commute times and Mount Vernon businesses have also been struggling because of the detour and become victims of frustrated drivers.

"Having people backed up for miles on Burlington Boulevard,” said commuter Ricky Vance, “no one wants to turn and get off to go somewhere, because it takes them an extra 30 minutes to get where they're going."

In addition to all of the regular commuters who drive the stretch of I-5, $38 million in trade cargo between the U.S. and Canada crosses the Skagit River every day.

The temporary bridge is expected to open next week.