I-5 bridge collapse detour brings pain, benefits

by: Essex Porter Updated:

The Interstate 5 Skagit River Bridge collapsed May 23, 2013 after an oversized load hit the bridge's trusses.

BURLINGTON, Wash. - Holiday traffic backed up in Burlington because of the I-5 Skagit bridge collapse, but not everyone found it painful.

During most of the day on Monday, southbound traffic moved slowly past the major shopping malls on South Burlington Boulevard. The detour could easily add 30 minutes or more to a trip.


"It's awful," said Brenda Stone,who was in town to visit her grandparents.


"Patience, that's what it takes,  is patience," said Kaye Weeks, who was taking a break from a camping trip to go shopping.

At Skagit Farmer Supply, the traffic congestion was keeping customers away.

"We've definitely seen a decline in business than what we are normally used to, said gardening specialist Lisa German. But German also said that some of her customers were visiting her Sedro-Woolley store in an effort to avoid the traffic.

By contrast, the detour was apparently steering business to the new Christopher and Banks clothing store.

"At first we were kind of worried about it," said manager Joanna Patterson.

Patterson said that by coincidence, the store opened at a new location on the day after the bridge collapse.  But she says the 4,000 calls they had made to alert customers to the new location paid off when the bridge went down.

Our business has been fantastic," Patterson said.  "It's horrible that it happened, but for us it's helped a little bit, I think."

Some Canadian shoppers braved the detour to get their shopping done. Frank Caruso of Vancouver said he'd tell his neighbors, "Come on down, yeah, it's no big deal."