NPI's Cascadia Advocate

Offering commentary and analysis from Washington, Oregon, and Idaho, The Cascadia Advocate is the Northwest Progressive Institute's unconventional perspective on world, national, and local politics.

Thursday, May 23rd, 2013

Washington’s elected leaders respond to collapse of I‑5 bridge over Skagit River

As the evening goes on, more and more elect­ed lead­ers are react­ing to tonight’s break­ing news out of Skag­it Coun­ty. A sec­tion of the bridge that car­ries Inter­state 5 over the Skag­it Riv­er, just north of Mount Ver­non, has col­lapsed into the water. The cause of the dis­as­ter is believed to be an over­height truck that struck the super­struc­ture, but this has not been offi­cial­ly con­firmed yet.

Wash­ing­ton Gov­er­nor Jay Inslee, Trans­porta­tion Sec­re­tary Lynn Peter­son and their entourage have arrived in Skag­it Coun­ty to respond. The gov­er­nor is expect­ed to address the news media short­ly at a site not far from the inter­state.

Con­gress­man Rick Larsen, who rep­re­sents west­ern Skag­it Coun­ty, was among the first elect­ed lead­ers to respond, with a state­ment issued at 8:27 PM.

“I am mon­i­tor­ing the bridge col­lapse in Skag­it Coun­ty,” he said. “My office stands ready to assist emer­gency respon­ders and local and state offi­cials. I encour­age peo­ple to fol­low police instruc­tions and stay away from the site of the col­lapse to let first respon­ders address the sit­u­a­tion safe­ly.”

Sen­a­tor Maria Cantwell sound­ed sim­i­lar notes in a state­ment released just a bit ago.

“My thoughts and prayers go out to the fam­i­lies affect­ed by this col­lapse and to the emer­gency respon­ders on the scene,” Cantwell said.

“My office is close­ly mon­i­tor­ing this sit­u­a­tion in coor­di­na­tion with fed­er­al, state and local offi­cials. We stand ready to help the com­mu­ni­ty in Skag­it Coun­ty and to sup­port the ongo­ing emer­gency response efforts. I encour­age peo­ple in the area to avoid I‑5 and to fol­low the direc­tions of local offi­cials.”

Con­gress­woman Suzan Del­Bene, who rep­re­sents east­ern Skag­it Coun­ty (as well as NPI’s home­town of Red­mond) like­wise indi­cat­ed she stands ready to help.

“I’m close­ly mon­i­tor­ing the bridge col­lapse in Skag­it Coun­ty this evening. I am deeply relieved at the ear­ly reports of no known fatal­i­ties from the bridge fail­ure. As emer­gency response efforts con­tin­ue and inspec­tion crews inves­ti­gate the cause of the shock­ing col­lapse of this bridge, I stand ready to assist in any way I can.”

“This evening, as I am urgent­ly trav­el­ing to the scene from Wash­ing­ton, DC, my staff is cur­rent­ly at the Skag­it Coun­ty Emer­gency Oper­a­tions Cen­ter to help in coor­di­na­tion with fed­er­al, state and local offi­cials. My staff and I are also in com­mu­ni­ca­tion with the NTSB as they send a team to inves­ti­gate and assist.

“I encour­age the pub­lic to avoid the scene and fol­low the direc­tions of local offi­cials and all sug­gest­ed detours in the area.”

Pat­ty Mur­ray announced an hour and a half ago on Twit­ter that she is fol­low­ing devel­op­ments as well, with a tweet signed “PM”.

Close­ly mon­i­tor­ing #Skag­it­Bridge & my staff is work­ing w/ @GovInslee, @wsdot, & local offi­cials to assist in any way pos­si­ble. ‑PM

—  @PattyMurray, 9:09 PM

“My thoughts are with the injured and their fam­i­lies, and I am thank­ful there appear to be no fatal­i­ties. King Coun­ty stands ready to assist in the response to the I‑5 bridge col­lapse,” King Coun­ty Exec­u­tive Dow Con­stan­tine added on Face­book.

Here’s some reac­tion from state law­mak­ers:

“Think­ing of those affect­ed by tonight’s events in Skag­it Coun­ty. I’m espe­cial­ly thank­ful for the ded­i­cat­ed WSDOT crews that are work­ing hard tonight.”

State Rep­re­sen­ta­tive Marko Liias

“What a ter­ri­fy­ing expe­ri­ence for the peo­ple thrust into the night­mare of a col­lapsed bridge. We’ve all tak­en this route a mil­lion times…sending prayers to those fam­i­lies direct­ly effect­ed.”

State Rep­re­sen­ta­tive Reuven Car­lyle

“We need to invest in our trans­porta­tion infra­struc­ture not just for our econ­o­my but for our safe­ty!”

- State Rep­re­sen­ta­tive Dave Upthe­grove

“[A Columbian] reporter just called and asked if this bridge col­lapse changes the debate on the CRC [Colum­bia Riv­er Cross­ing]. First, I had not heard of the col­lapse before his call as I had just got­ten off work late and went direct­ly to the store. I hope and pray every­one is alright — that would be a mir­a­cle! How­ev­er, I believe this col­lapse only inten­si­fies the debate in Olympia on the I‑5 bridge’s safe­ty which has always been a pri­ma­ry issue, par­tic­u­lar­ly the much old­er north­bound span. The crit­ics voic­es will say they want a new bridge — but their actions say they real­ly don’t want a new bridge. They will say we can build a “cheap­er” bridge — a total myth. They will point to a num­ber of what they con­sid­er “prob­lems” but nev­er address the core issues with a VIABLE alter­na­tives that have not already been explored and dis­card­ed by their peers. No, I hope and prey no one was seri­ous­ly hurt but the need is there even more now to build that bridge!”

- State Rep­re­sen­ta­tive Jim Moeller

“Thoughts and prayers for those in Skag­it Val­ley. Very seri­ous sit­u­a­tion for vic­tims and first respon­ders.”

- State Rep­re­sen­ta­tive Chris Reyk­dal

“Maybe we should increase the size of the pro­posed trans­porta­tion pack­age so we can make sure our state’s high­ways are safe.”

- State Rep­re­sen­ta­tive Joe Fitzgib­bon

UPDATE, 11 PM: The gov­er­nor is being briefed and his news con­fer­ence is expect­ed to begin in a few min­utes. It will be car­ried live on all major sta­tions.

UPDATE, 11:59 PM: The gov­er­nor’s news con­fer­ence did­n’t last too long. Not all the net­works car­ried all of it because they were talk­ing to a sur­vivor at Skag­it Val­ley Hos­pi­tal. Here is Gov­er­nor Jay Inslee’s state­ment:

“I’m thank­ful there were no fatal­i­ties tonight. I want to thank the U.S. Bor­der Patrol, our State Patrol and local fire, police and oth­er emer­gency per­son­nel who par­tic­i­pat­ed in a very suc­cess­ful res­cue effort.”

“Our hearts are with those who have been injured and we hope to hear good news soon of their speedy recov­ery. Wit­ness­es say a truck hit the bridge and caused it to col­lapse, but an inves­ti­ga­tion has been launched to con­firm that. Any wit­ness­es or peo­ple with infor­ma­tion should con­tact the State Patrol.”

“I urge every­one dri­ving through this area to pay close atten­tion to the detour and trav­el infor­ma­tion that our state Depart­ment of Trans­porta­tion and State Patrol will be pro­vid­ing. The Nation­al Trans­porta­tion Safe­ty Board is on their way tomor­row, and I’ve been in touch with our fed­er­al part­ners.”

“We will be involved in a vig­or­ous and dili­gent effort to get traf­fic flow­ing again through the Skag­it bridge cor­ri­dor and I will issue an emer­gency procla­ma­tion tomor­row to make sure we have the resources to do so as quick­ly as pos­si­ble. This is an oppor­tu­ni­ty for us to pull togeth­er to show strength of char­ac­ter and patience and good cit­i­zen­ship as we deal with this dis­rup­tion. “

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