• Money on the way to replace I-5 Skagit River Bridge; help for impacted businesses uncertain

    By: Essex Porter


    Parts for a $15 million temporary bridge are already arriving at the site of the I-5 Skagit River Bridge collapse.

    The Washington State Department of Transportation says the temporary replacement is on track to open in mid-June.

    U.S. Rep. Rick Larsen says he's been assured that federal money will be there to pay for the temporary bridge and a permanent replacement.

    "The money won't be a problem at all," Larsen said.

    But federal help for local businesses is not as assured.

    Businesses bypassed by the detour are especially hard hit.

    The Tulip Inn is one of those. "It's really been crazy," says front desk clerk Leeza Whalen. "We expected to be full this weekend and you know the minute it happened we had cancellations."

    It's a similar story at the Tulip Valley Winery.

    "I went from a really good Memorial Day weekend every year to two customers. That's what it's done to me," says owner Ector DeLeon.

    Larsen explained that the Small Business Administration offers loans for businesses suffering from a disaster, but it can be difficult to qualify because businesses must exhaust all other options first.

    Gov. Jay Inslee today announced that he's releasing $150,000 in emergency funds to help tell the public that Skagit County is open for business despite the detours.

    DeLeon welcomes the help, saying "Get people from Seattle to say 'hey you can still come down here you know the weather's getting nice, there's still a lot of campgrounds and come do some shopping.' "

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