I-5 collapse has engineers focused on bridge safety - CBS News 8 - San Diego, CA News Station - KFMB Channel 8

I-5 collapse has engineers focused on bridge safety

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  • Feds look for temporary fix after I-5 collapse

    Feds look for temporary fix after I-5 collapse

    Friday, May 24 2013 6:11 PM EDT2013-05-24 22:11:27 GMT
    Federal officials were searching the country for a possible temporary replacement for a bridge that collapsed along the crucial Interstate 5 corridor, but Washington Gov. Jay Inslee  
    Federal officials were searching the country for a possible temporary replacement for a bridge that collapsed along the crucial Interstate 5 corridor, but Washington Gov. Jay Inslee cautioned Friday that major disruptions will last for weeks, if not months. 

SAN DIEGO (CBS 8) - Washington State's transportation secretary says the bridge was inspected and repaired twice last year -- so why did it collapse so easily?

News 8's Phil Blauer spoke to a local bridge expert Friday.

Our local bridge expert says engineers need to step up evaluation of bridges, and it's time to stop using a "band-aid" approach to repair them.

San Diego based bridge engineer Chris Hall says it was fortunate that no one lost their life in Thursday night's Washington State bridge collapse into the Skagit River, which sent two vehicles plunging into the chilly waters

Authorities say a truck hauling an oversized load of drilling equipment hit an overhead girder on the 58-year-old steel truss bridge.

The term "fracture critical" means the bridge has the potential to completely collapse if one of its parts gets weakened.

Hall says the bridge was also known as "functionally obsolete" perfectly safe and sound structurally but could have heavy traffic jams, not have a high enough clearance for oversized vehicles and doesn't have shoulder room to allow emergency vehicles to pass.

Federal officials are looking for a pre-made structure to replace the 160 foot section that fell into the river.

Chris Hall says if they don't find it, it's going to be awhile before a replacement can be built.

He says the incident will have a major impact on traffic in the small town of Mount Vernon, Washington.

He also says it's going to slow down commerce between Seattle and Vancouver.

Authorities say it will cost $15 million to repair the bridge. The federal government has already promised the state $1 million in emergency funding.

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