Crane plucks vehicles, bridge debris from Skagit River

by: Colleen West, Web Editor Updated:

MOUNT VERNON, Wash. - Crews removed a car, truck, trailer and debris from the Skagit River after the Interstate 5 bridge collapsed into the water when it was struck by a truck last week.

 Dramatic surveillance video shows the over-sized load that clipped the bridge and the chunk of that came crashing into the river.  See images of the collapsed bridge here.

 The focus has turned to the removal of the wreckage and repairing the stretch of highway used daily by 70,000 drivers.

At about 1 a.m. Monday, a crane on a barge in the river pulled out the first piece -- a trailer.  

>>>  See images of the removal operation here 

  But it wasn’t easy.  The crane first got a grip on the trailer, then it broke apart, and workers had to use a bucket to pick up the rest of it and get it onto the barge.

 Later Monday morning, a crane first lifted out a Subaru from the river.   [See video.]    A truck was then pulled out.    Crews will then lift out the metal parts from the 160-foot section of the fallen bridge.

 "They actually have hydraulic shears, basically like a pair of scissors, but very strong, and they'll be able to cut through that steel,” said Dave Chesson with the Washington State Department of Transportation.

Eight DOT officials descended on the section of the bridge still standing.  Using two under-bridge inspection trucks, they checked the condition of the bridge and looked for additional damage from Thursday's blow.

The National Transportation Safety Board  released this video of divers getting a closer look at the wreckage Sunday night.

The diver examined the bridge's beams to learn more about the collapse.

Bridge engineers will compare the problems they noted Monday with those on previous inspection reports.

Crews must remove the fallen span from the river before final inspections of the bridge and piers can be completed.

 On Sunday, Governor Jay Inslee announced a plan to build first a temporary bridge within a few weeks and a permanent one alongside it that would be ready for traffic sometime in September.