A four-lane section of Washington’s Interstate highway 5 bridge fell into the Skagit River Thursday night, sending cars and people hurtling into the water. Officials believe that the collapse may have been caused by an oversized load that “immediately” caused the bridge to give out.
While no fatalities have been reported, a spokeswoman for Skagit Valley Hospital in Mount Vernon said that two patients taken from the accident were being treated for injuries. A third was taken to another hospital. There is no word on their conditions. One witness, Xavier Grospe, 62, told the AP that he could see at least several cars partially submerged, with some people sitting on top of their vehicles.
The Skagit bridge, built in 1955, was just one of many in desperate need of repair. The Atlantic’s Derek Thompson laid out the dire state of America’s bridge infrastructure in an article Friday:
The average age of America's 607,380 bridges is about 42 years old. The Federal Highway Administrations claims we'll need to spend about $20.5 billion annually for the next 16 years to properly update them -- about 60 percent more than we're spending every year today. Meanwhile, the Highway Trust Fund has been slammed by a decrease in miles driven nationally, states and cities have been slammed by the weak economy, and private builders face a jumbled knot of ‘municipalities, investors, and federal overseers.
Something to think about next time you’re driving across a creaky bridge in the middle of nowhere. Photos and video footage of the collapse can be seen below:
Image Courtesy of Harley Soltes