by: Graham Johnson Updated:
Bow Hill, Wash. - A load identical to the oversized load that hit the Skagit River Bridge and caused it to collapse sits in a parking lot at the Bow Hill Port of Entry, a state weigh station on Interstate 5 a few miles
north of the bridge.
It was traveling behind another casing shed, being moved from Alberta to a drilling operation in Alaska. Investigators with the National Transportation Safety Board said the route called for both sheds to be brought across the U.S./Canada border and down I-5 to Vancouver, Wash., where they would be put on barges to Alaska.
The Washington State Patrol said the first oversized load that struck the bridge came through the Bow Hill weigh station at a time when only one commercial vehicle enforcement officer was on duty. WSP Lt. Dennis Bosman said the officer was busy dealing with a safety problem on another truck, saw the oversized load go by with a pilot vehicle and the proper signage, and was not alarmed.
Bosman said not every truck driver is personally contacted, and contact is a matter of officer discretion. Bosman said staffing is another factor. He said staffing levels vary at the facility and that the agency is dealing with a personnel shortage, and is having trouble finding qualified people to hire.
Bosman also said there are height sensors at the weigh station, but they only signal that a vehicle is overheight, and do not measure the actual height.
The load had an online oversized permit from the Washington State Department of Transportation, which stated it did not guarantee height clearances. The permit stated the load was 15 feet 9 inches. The minimum clearance on the southbound portion of the bridge was 15 feet 6 inches.
The driver hauling the second load was several miles behind the one that struck the bridge. That driver stopped at the Bow Hill Rest Area, and never got as far as the weigh station.
It is unclear what will happen to the second part of the load.