New I-5 bridge section over Skagit River opens

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MOUNT VERNON — Four months after the old span collapsed into the Skagit River, a new Interstate 5 bridge section was installed and cleared for traffic Sunday.

Crews swapped a temporary 500-ton span with a 900-ton permanent one.

The bridge, which was closed overnight for the installation, reopened to traffic at 2 p.m. Sunday, the state Department of Transportation said.

The original target hour for the reopening was 7 a.m., but the complicated swap took longer than expected.

On May 23, an oversize truck load hit the bridge, sending one 160-foot section and two vehicles with three people into the water. No one was killed.

Traffic was detoured for a month until a temporary span was installed.

The collapse severed one of the state's key transportation links, carrying roughly 70,000 vehicles a day.

The cost of removing the temporary span and installing a permanent replacement is $8.5 million -- paid by federal emergency relief funds.