Video: Bridge collapse in Washington

posted at 8:01 am on May 24, 2013 by Ed Morrissey

It’s not easy to avoid a sense of deja vu on this story, but there is one key — and happy — difference between this story and six years ago in Minneapolis: no one got killed in the bridge collapse in Washington.  A truck collided with a bridge in Mount Vernon north of Seattle on the I-5 freeway, creating the collapse and sending three vehicles into frigid water 50 feet below.  Thankfully, all were rescued with minor injuries.

The AP has raw video of the collapsed bridge, and the New York Times carries their report:

An Interstate 5 bridge over a river collapsed north of Seattle Thursday evening, dumping two vehicles into the water and sparking a rescue effort by boats and divers as three injured people were pulled from the chilly waterway.

As with the Minneapolis collapse that killed 13, questions were immediately raised about the bridge’s known condition before the collapse.  It had been rated “functionally obsolete,” but that’s a reference to its design, not its condition.  Washington had not considered it a high priority for replacement:

The National Bridge Inventory Database lists it as “somewhat better than minimum adequacy to tolerate being left in place,” with a sufficiency rating of 57.4 out of 100 — worse than Washington’s average rating of 80 but better than 759 other bridges in the state. And while Washington State is considering its own $8.4 billion transportation package, state lawmakers say the Skagit Bridge wasn’t even on their high-risk list. “It is shocking that I-5 would have something happen like this,” state Rep. Judy Clibborn, (D)tells the AP.

That won’t stop tongues from wagging and assigning blame ahead of an investigation.  The same thing happened here in 2007, with politicians and local columnists shrieking about budget cuts (which were nonexistent) until an NTSB investigation finally ended up faulting the original design of the bridge and its gusset plates. There’s already plenty of reason to argue that it’s not a lack of cash (even in Skagit County where the bridge collapse took place), but a strange set of priorities that might have slowed infrastructure investment in roads and bridges. All sides should take a deep breath and wait to see what really happened.

KOMO 4 in Seattle has its own news report on the collapse:

Francis said troopers have located a commercial motor vehicle believed to have hit several girders on the bridge just prior to the collapse. The driver is cooperating with investigators.

As the rescue unfolded, crowds of people lined the river to watch the scene unfold.

“It’s not something you see every day,” said Jimmy O’Connor, the owner of two local pizza restaurants who was driving on another bridge parallel to the one that collapsed. “People were starting to crawl out of their cars.”

Here’s a little more raw footage.

I suspect that we’ll be hearing a lot about the bridges in Washington over the next few weeks. Don’t forget that this will be a federal question, at least in part, as it is part of the federal interstate highway system — as was also the case in Minneapolis in 2007.

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Been across that bridge many times when I had an after-school job in Mt. Vernon..

Electrongod on May 24, 2013 at 8:03 AM

Glad everyone is safe

We need more money!!!!!
-dems

cmsinaz on May 24, 2013 at 8:05 AM

“Quick, we need another stimulus!!!!”
/Obama

Bitter Clinger on May 24, 2013 at 8:08 AM

“The horrors of Sequester!!!!”
/Dems

Bitter Clinger on May 24, 2013 at 8:09 AM

Well, it is either due to the sequester or global warming. Haven’t decided which yet. Maybe one for some audiences and the other for other audiences. /LIBs & their Media Pals

KW64 on May 24, 2013 at 8:13 AM

Bush!!!

Del Dolemonte on May 24, 2013 at 8:14 AM

Bitter Clinger on May 24, 2013 at 8:09 AM

You beat me to it. (Great minds think alike?)

KW64 on May 24, 2013 at 8:15 AM

Who needs bridges – more importantly – pot is legal.

$389k in stimulus spent to study the separate effects of malt liquor and marijuana, not the Washington bridge #p2
11:23 PM – 23 May 2013

tru2tx on May 24, 2013 at 8:16 AM

Deja vu.

Deja Vu?

My memory may be getting fuzzy. But wasn’t Bush being blamed by this time after the Minnesota bridge collapse?

I haven’t heard 0bama blame Bush…yet.

cozmo on May 24, 2013 at 8:17 AM

All the GOP’s fault! — thread of comments over at Huffpo.

Sheesh. Liberals, bless their hearts, can’t get off their ideology to look at reality.

But then, in The Matrix, the fantasy pill is Blue and the reality pill is Red. Makes a lot of sense.

ProfShadow on May 24, 2013 at 8:18 AM

Oversize truck hit it.

meci on May 24, 2013 at 8:18 AM

Well, it is either due to the sequester or global warming. Haven’t decided which yet. Maybe one for some audiences and the other for other audiences. /LIBs & their Media Pals

KW64 on May 24, 2013 at 8:13 AM

Actually, I’m pretty sure sequestration is gutting the EPA which is keeping them from enforcing global warming regulations (against Halliburton) which in turn is heating up the planet and breaking bridges.

So you see, it’s both. And it’s still Bush/Cheney’s fault.

It hurts trying to get inside a liberal mind. It’s so tiny and cramped in there.

SoRight on May 24, 2013 at 8:20 AM

You beat me to it. (Great minds think alike?)

KW64 on May 24, 2013 at 8:15 AM

You got it!!

Bitter Clinger on May 24, 2013 at 8:22 AM

I can remember back in the 80′s traveling I-5 to work and Washington would pave 2 mile strips of I-5 and then next year pave the rest..
The first year it looked like a elongated checker board.

Electrongod on May 24, 2013 at 8:23 AM

We have to tax trucks more.They can afford it.
lib//

docflash on May 24, 2013 at 8:23 AM

Shovel ready!

txdoc on May 24, 2013 at 8:25 AM

Oversize truck hit it.

meci on May 24, 2013 at 8:18 AM

Dang fat cats..
/

Electrongod on May 24, 2013 at 8:25 AM

Jeff Morris, D-House Rep, Mt Vernon, WA, is clearly at fault.

Sincerely,
Nancy Pelosi

hillsoftx on May 24, 2013 at 8:29 AM

another tragedy caused by not enough regulations in a red state…..

chasdal on May 24, 2013 at 8:29 AM

Shovel ready?

ButterflyDragon on May 24, 2013 at 8:30 AM

Quick, send Virginia 100 billion dollars to replace the bridge.

Old Country Boy on May 24, 2013 at 8:34 AM

Just drove across that bridge 2 weeks ago. Whew, great timing on my part. I’m sure the repubs are to blame. The truck driver probably couldn’t read the no oversize loads since it’s in English.

Kissmygrits on May 24, 2013 at 8:35 AM

Sequester! Global Warming! Manbearpig!

blammm on May 24, 2013 at 8:37 AM

Glad there were no fatalities.

Looks like this one maybe the fault of an oversized truck. I still think some liberals to this day are convinced Pawlenty was at fault for the bridge collapse here even though it was proven to be a design flaw.

Can’t reason with a liberal that’s for sure.

gophergirl on May 24, 2013 at 8:40 AM

The truck driver and bridge builder have been issued audit notices.

Global warming too, it caused extra moisture to be in the air which made the bridge rust out.

Bishop on May 24, 2013 at 8:42 AM

Oh, goodie….now the Administration can find a use for several thousand unused signs from the last infrastructure stimulus….the one that was supposed to rebuild every bad bridge and roadway all across America and usher in a whole new era, a brave new world, if you will, of prosperity, and unicorns….and Skittles falling like dew…that stimulus.

Might want to find a new sign, though…

But, will any on the left stop and figure out a simple equation….old design bridge + heavy (oversize) truck x girders shattered = collapse.

Banning trucks…help secure the road to America’s perfectly safe future….coming soon from a Congressman near you.

coldwarrior on May 24, 2013 at 8:47 AM

Dam* those Amish carrying too much produce in there wagons.

chemman on May 24, 2013 at 8:48 AM

Years if Governor Christine Gregoire & other democrats continue to haunt Washington state.

portlandon on May 24, 2013 at 8:48 AM

On the bright side, Washingtonians should have a really awesome $500B bridge in about three years to replace the “functionally obsolete” one. Governor Inslee is on the case!

Jeddite on May 24, 2013 at 8:49 AM

God punishing us for allowing gays in Scouting.

trs on May 24, 2013 at 8:49 AM

INFERSTRUCKSHUR!!!!

PappyD61 on May 24, 2013 at 8:51 AM

They went after pawlenty & bush pretty hard in the Minnesota bridge collapse.

The media isn’t blaming anyone on this one yet.

Hmmmmm.

portlandon on May 24, 2013 at 8:52 AM

Well, it is either due to the sequester or global warming. Haven’t decided which yet. Maybe one for some audiences and the other for other audiences. /LIBs & their Media Pals

KW64 on May 24, 2013 at 8:13 AM

global sequestrming.

dmacleo on May 24, 2013 at 8:53 AM

The socialists will blame all bridge collapses on the Republicans for not spending billions more on “infrastructure”.

At the same time the socialists will deny that out-of-control government spending sucking many hundreds of billions a year out of the economy has anything to do with a struggling stagnant economy and high unemployment.

It’s all about increasing and maximizing a socialist government’s size, scope, and power. If they had complete power they would blame bridge collapses on something else, like they did in the Soviet Union. Such as counter revolutionaries sabotaging their perfect socialist plans. Or, as in the case of the IRS scandal, low-level mismanagement, or something.

farsighted on May 24, 2013 at 8:54 AM

Maybe we shouldn’t have wasted all that federal stimulus money studying tranny hookers in South America and Thailand?

slickwillie2001 on May 24, 2013 at 8:55 AM

False Flag! Trucks don’t melt steel.

ronsfi on May 24, 2013 at 8:58 AM

slickwillie2001 on May 24, 2013 at 8:55 AM

Smile of the morning…thank you.

coldwarrior on May 24, 2013 at 9:00 AM

Ed, the link you use here:

but a strange set of priorities that might

opens multiple pop-up windows, and keeps opening them as I tried to close them. This despite the pop-up blocker being on. Fix this NOW – it is a security issue.

Is there any more specific information on how this “oversize load” impacted the bridge? You would think that crashing into parts of the bridge wouldn’t suddenly make it liable to falling down.

GWB on May 24, 2013 at 9:19 AM

There’s already plenty of reason to argue that it’s not a lack of cash (even in Skagit County where the bridge collapse took place), but a strange set of priorities that might have slowed infrastructure investment in roads and bridges.

Everybody dance!

Ward Cleaver on May 24, 2013 at 9:22 AM

opens multiple pop-up windows, and keeps opening them as I tried to close them. This despite the pop-up blocker being on. Fix this NOW – it is a security issue.

Is there any more specific information on how this “oversize load” impacted the bridge? You would think that crashing into parts of the bridge wouldn’t suddenly make it liable to falling down.

GWB on May 24, 2013 at 9:19 AM

Run Firefox or Chrome, and install the AdBlock Plus add-on. I opened the link in a new tab, and I didn’t see any strange windows, ads, pop-ups, etc.

Ward Cleaver on May 24, 2013 at 9:24 AM

And here at the othe end of the State we have been arguing about replacing another I5 bridge for years. The residents want an updated replacement bridge for about 1 Billion, the “Wizards of Smart” want one with Light Rail (aka Crime Rail) connected to Portland Oregon for 3.4 Billion.
Their arugument is, HEY the Feds are “Giving us the money” for Light Rail. Hummmm must be from Obama’s stash.
We have voted against Light Rail three time. OH, almost forgot. The new bridge would have a $9, each way toll during peak hours. That’s $350 per month for the thousands that cross that bridge each day to put food on the table for their families.
All the while the other bridges in the State deteriorate.
Just freaking unbelievable.

Whiterock on May 24, 2013 at 9:27 AM

How fast was the bridge moving when it collided with the truck?

JohnBrown on May 24, 2013 at 9:28 AM

Stimulus! If we could save just one bridge, it would all be with it.

TexAz on May 24, 2013 at 9:31 AM

With = worth. Dang it.

TexAz on May 24, 2013 at 9:31 AM

Another in a long line of Washington State bridge incidents. If they don’t collapse, they sink!

ChuckinHouston on May 24, 2013 at 9:33 AM

farsighted on May 24, 2013 at 8:54 AM

They already have. Within minutes of the Washington Post post this article on Facebook, libtards were already blaming the National GOP on a bridge that is managed by the state of Washington. It was a disgusting slight to see. Dancing on the graves (thankfully no one died)to score political points.

Lance Murdock on May 24, 2013 at 9:37 AM

You didn’t build that.

steebo77 on May 24, 2013 at 9:43 AM

You didn’t build that!

damn right, skippy.

skeedro on May 24, 2013 at 9:44 AM

sorry about that steebo… I was in your mind and on your heels. :)

skeedro on May 24, 2013 at 9:45 AM

Tingles: “It was a white racist guy driving that truck.”

HiJack on May 24, 2013 at 9:51 AM

Run Firefox or Chrome, and install the AdBlock Plus add-on. I opened the link in a new tab, and I didn’t see any strange windows, ads, pop-ups, etc.

Ward Cleaver on May 24, 2013 at 9:24 AM

I don’t have any choice as to browser in this particular instance. And, really, the popup windows happened when I went to close the tab I opened it in originally – and every time I tried to close the new window. Did it really require a link through “t.co”, whatever that is?

(I run Firefox on my home machine, and don’t even require any extra pop-up blockers with it. I did have to block a bunch of the ad websites, however, since HotAir allows them to post autostart flash ads that bog my computer down – I usually have several HA tabs open at once. The flash ads would take up almost as much memory as Firefox itself was using.)

GWB on May 24, 2013 at 9:55 AM

Global Warming, Bush, Sequester, not enough Stimulus, a shovel ready job that wasn’t done and Americans didn’t want to do. It’s not my fault Baby.

ironked on May 24, 2013 at 9:55 AM

Regardless of what the issue was (and yeah, the “if it bleeds it leads” media won’t really care about truth), I just wanted to take a second and say I’m glad no one was injured this time.

psrch on May 24, 2013 at 10:09 AM

Hmm. Overloaded truck with (physically) oversized load tries to cross bridge clearly posted with load limits and “No Oversized Loads”.

Part of truck’s oversized load hits bridge structure, that plus truck’s weight overstresses bridge structure, bridge breaks, dumps truck and cars into water.

I wouldn’t think figuring this one out would achieve the “rocket science” threshold. More like the “When in doubt, read the f**king instructions” level.

Truck driver says “maybe I shouldn’t have tried to cross the bridge”. Which definitely goes in the “No sh!t, Sherlock” category.

Progressives claim that the Evil GOP (TM) has deprived them of “infrastructure” money. Which they want to spend on High Speed Light Rail (TM), so everyone will ride the (pristine, moral, uplifting) train instead of driving Evil Automobiles (TM).

Exactly how that moves freight to places trains don’t go they are somehow entirely unable to adequately explain.

I get the distinct impression that the first responders and the people they pulled out of the cars are the only ones involved here who are actually qualified to call themselves adults. But that’s just me.

clear ether

eon

eon on May 24, 2013 at 10:13 AM

SEQUESTER!

GarandFan on May 24, 2013 at 10:16 AM

There’s already plenty of reason to argue that it’s not a lack of cash (even in Skagit County where the bridge collapse took place),

Ed, I-5 is part of the Federal Interstate roadway system. I am not familiar with any interstate maintenance or re-construction projects out here in the west that are funded directly by any county.

Maybe in Minnesota you folks do that, but in the western state’s rural counties they barely have funding for county roads and they do not have a hand in Interstate roadway maintenance, let alone the bridges on the interstates.

Feds and states usually work in concert on Interstate roadway system project funding.

Difficultas_Est_Imperium on May 24, 2013 at 10:30 AM

All the GOP’s fault! — thread of comments over at Huffpo.

Sheesh. Liberals, bless their hearts, can’t get off their ideology to look at reality.

But then, in The Matrix, the fantasy pill is Blue and the reality pill is Red. Makes a lot of sense.

ProfShadow on May 24, 2013 at 8:18 AM

If the bridge was built in 1955, the libs will blame Ike.

In all fairness, the design of the collapsed bridge is unusual for an Interstate highway bridge, with most of the support provided by side trusses ABOVE the roadway, where they could be struck by an out-of-control truck.

Most bridges carrying Interstate highways either have most of the support structures BELOW the roadway, in several spans, with only guard-rails on the side of the roadway to prevent errant vehicles from plunging off the bridge, but which are not needed to support the roadbed itself. This is evident from the videos, where a bridge parallel to the collapsed bridge seems to have a stronger design with most of the support structures under the roadway.

For longer bridges, a suspension-bridge design is preferred, with two or three strong steel vertical towers supporting a thick suspended cable in a catenary shape, from which smaller cables support the roadway. If an out-of control truck goes off the roadway, it is less likely to strike the vertical towers (which could be designed to withstand a truck impact at their base), and only a few small support cables would be taken out by the impact, and neighboring cables would be able to take up the slack without causing the bridge to collapse.

Exit question: If this bridge is rebuilt, will a stronger, more modern design be used?

Steve Z on May 24, 2013 at 10:39 AM

Krugman: This is why we need another stimulus in 5-4-3-2……

Rovin on May 24, 2013 at 10:43 AM

Fortunately it appears spring flooding of the Skagit hasn’t started yet.

sadatoni on May 24, 2013 at 10:52 AM

To the Hot Air folks: news videos like this are useless, a waste of both bandwidth and time. Stills showing the girders close up would provide evidence of a collision; stills of the bridge standing would show its construction and structural design. But news vids like this are meant to sate the low-information viewer, and that’s all they really do.

njcommuter on May 24, 2013 at 12:23 PM

Millions of dollars spent on stimulus bills that did practically nothing except pay off Obamas cronies and bundlers when they could have been spent on infrastructure projects which would have employed thousands. Its not Bushes fault, Mr. Prez. You are a total clusterfcck.

kemojr on May 24, 2013 at 12:48 PM

the pics of the truck in question showed it to be wide but it looked light. just didn’t look like a lot of mass. could be wrong though, angle of photos could be misleading.
with a lead vehicle there should have been permits issued so the weight should have been known.
sort of seems the truck was the final straw and not the determining factor.

dmacleo on May 24, 2013 at 12:57 PM

The local paper is reporting that the oversize truck was too tall, and hit the upper part of the bridge. In Washington State, oversize trucks are supposed to go through a permitting process, wherein they are escorted with vehicles and given a specific route to follow by the state, which supposedly knows the clearance on all the bridges. But the state makes mistakes, and accidents happen even when the driver has followed all the correct procedures. Not sure if this truck driver was even aware he was oversize.

The bridge was considered “functionally obsolete”, not structurally deficient. This makes sense, because the possibility of having the overhead support structure hit by an over-tall vehicle should’ve been considered during design, but apparently wasn’t. But, it wouldn’t have been on the highest priority to be replaced, I would guess.

NbyNW on May 24, 2013 at 1:22 PM

BTW heard on the radio that the truck was from Canada. Thanks, guys. This weekend is especially busy with the Ski to Sea competition in Bellingham (north of Mt. Vernon) which brings competitors from all over the world and lots of local competitors and spectators. Going to be a mess.

NbyNW on May 24, 2013 at 1:27 PM

Memo to all the lefty morons blaming sequester -

I live in WA state, it has been dominated by leftwing pols for years. The previous governor pushed for one of the highest gas taxes in the nation, plus a raise in the state sales tax to pay for … wait for it … roads and bridges!!

Now where ‘o where did all that money go? Obviously not for that bridge. Ok, go back to your regularly scheduled GOP bashing.

Child In Time on May 24, 2013 at 2:06 PM

Heard on radio news that the truck driver claims he had a specific permit to cross that bridge with that load in that truck.

slickwillie2001 on May 24, 2013 at 3:22 PM

All the while the other bridges in the State deteriorate.
Just freaking unbelievable.

Whiterock on May 24, 2013 at 9:27 AM

Bah, you beat me. I was gonna blame it on the morons with the columbia bridge insanity. They’ve wasted millions already in just the planning.

oryguncon on May 24, 2013 at 4:22 PM

Oh they’ve spent lots of money on infrastructure in Washington State. We see new traffic circles and bike paths everywhere. Whether we want them or not.

NbyNW on May 24, 2013 at 5:32 PM

Child In Time on May 24, 2013 at 2:06 PM

I live in WA as well. In fact, I cross that bridge almost every week, visiting my in-laws who live in Skagit County. I can’t wait for the hand wringing and finger pointing to begin. What a lot of folks will conveniently forget is how much money is being blown on the Seattle tunnel. We could have retrofitted the Alska Way viaduct for ~$300M, completely torn in down and rebuilt it to seismic code for $2.5B. After voters voted down the tunnel, Seattle’s and the state’s leadership gave voters the big F-U and are moving ahead with the tunnel anyway, to the tune of over $4B, which doesn’t even take into account the cost overruns. Using light rail as an example, that tunnel will cost well north of $5B. Could have fixed a hell of a lot of bridges with $2.5B…

Roc on May 24, 2013 at 9:23 PM