Several deficiencies have been exposed following the collapse of Skagit River Bridge on Interstate-5 near Mt. Vernon, Wash. The collapse happened when the bridge was struck by a truck carrying an oversized load.
The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) found a series of problems after investigating the collapse. First and foremost, the driver of the truck failed to perform basic safety functions, including proper route planning.
However, the NTSB was especially concerned with the lack of low-clearance warning signs for the bridge. In addition to the Skagit River Bridge, Washington State has several other bridges in its interstate system, similar to the Skagit River bridge, and none have low-clearance signs. Nor are there any signs indicating what lane oversized vehicles should use.
“We appreciate the work of the NTSB and its recommendations,” said Washington Secretary of Transportation Lynn Peterson in a statement. “WSDOT has already begun acting on NTSB’s recommendations for improving access to data for the freight industry to better plan travel routes of oversized loads. We will work to enact all of its recommendations and will continue to work closely with the Washington State Legislature and freight industry on the recommendations that require legislative action.”
Of course that doesn’t mean the truck driver, and trucking company, doesn’t deserve some of the blame. Mullen Trucking had obtained the proper permits for the trip, but failed to check and plan for low clearances for the route.
Two passenger vehicles and a camper-trailer fell into the river when the bridge collapsed and two other vehicles were damaged in the accident. Luckily none of the eight vehicle occupants were seriously injured.