When the Interstate 5 bridge over the Skagit River collapsed on May 23, we said that DOT would help the people of Washington State in every way we can. And we are making good on that promise.
Yesterday, we announced that we are making $15.6 million in federal emergency funds available to help rebuild this important crossing.
The Skagit River I-5 bridge carries about 71,000 vehicles each and every day on its four lanes. It's the main highway between Seattle and Vancouver, British Columbia. So it's a major commercial route between the U.S. and Canada, with approximately 11 percent of the volume coming from commercial trucks transporting goods between the two countries.
As Federal Highway Administrator Victor Mendez said, "People and businesses have been impacted while this bridge is out of commission, and that hurts both the local and national economy. So we're providing the state with the federal support it needs to restore this critical link."
These emergency funds are a major part of our commitment to restore mobility and expedite repairs as quickly as possible.
Photos courtesy WSDOT
The first part of fulfilling that commitment came the day after a section of the bridge span fell into the Skagit River when we made $1 million in quick release emergency funds available. And the terrific news is that the Washington Department of Transportation (WSDOT) has been able to complete a temporary span in less than a month.
That temporary span, which will allow drivers to avoid a lengthy detour, is actually set to open today. I think that's a great credit to Governor Jay Inslee, WSDOT, and the crews who have worked so hard to get the crossing reopened.
And when a more permanent span is complete --possibly as early as this fall-- WSDOT will remove the temporary bridge and install the new span.
Video courtesy WSDOT
Through Recovery Act funding, the Federal Highway Administration has done a great job getting many bridges and roads into the state of good repair our nation's families and economy demand and deserve. But the need is tremendous. And whatever solutions experts propose, they all boil down to funding America's transportation infrastructure.
With the current transportation law due to expire in 2014, that need will have to be addressed sooner rather than later. We can't keep kicking the can down the road when we're not keeping the road in good shape to begin with.
We continue to urge Congress to pass a long-term transportation bill that reflects President Obama’s plan to Fix it First and build a stronger national transportation infrastructure. In the meantime, we're happy to be able to help WSDOT repair the Skagit Bridge and get the people and businesses of Washington State back on I-5.