by: Essex Porter Updated:MT. VERNON, Wash. —
State transportation engineers say they are still on track to open a temporary I-5 Skagit River Bridge by mid-June, but KIRO-7 has found that a crucial part of the work has yet to begin.
While the process of assembling a temporary bridge is beginning to get underway, the bridge can't be installed until state engineers are sure the concrete piers that will hold it up were not damaged by the bridge collapse last Thursday.
But state engineers haven't been able to examine the piers, because investigators for the National Transportation Safety Board are still scrutinizing the underwater wreckage. So far the NTSB is not giving any indication of when they will be able to release the site to the state,
So how will that affect the mid-June deadline for opening the temporary bridge? "I wouldn't say delayed," said Washington State Transportation Department Spokesman Travis Phelps, "Right now we're on track to meet the mid-June deadline."
Until the temporary bridge is opened, many businesses are suffering. "I had two customers last weekend, and that's Friday, Saturday, Sunday," says Ector DeLeon, owner of the Tulip Valley Winery on Highway 536. "On Memorial Day weekend, I could have had 500 people."
But, surprisingly, the owners of Schuh Farms nearby say they've probably lost more business to the weather than the bridge. "People don't come out when it's rainy or it's cold whatever, says owner Steve Schuh, "but if the sun comes out, people come out.