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View from above of collapsed I-5 bridge over Skagit River between Washington state and Vancouver, with boats in the water inspecting the damage.
The collapse of a section of the I-5 bridge spanning the Skagit River between Seattle and Vancouver did not cause any fatalities, authorities say, though they plan to send in divers just to be sure. No deaths is excellent news. The fact that a large section of a major bridge fell into the river is less good news.

A truck with an oversized load is suspected to have hit the bridge:

According to KIRO, the white semi-truck that was being investigated by State Patrol troopers was marked with an oversize load sign and followed a pilot car southbound across the bridge.

"There was damage to the container's top right front corner—clearly from scraping something. However, it had surprisingly little damage overall," KIRO says. Investigators were measuring the truck, trying to determine its height and width.

Normally, of course, when a truck and a bridge collide, the truck gets the worst of it. A bridge collapse in the absence of an earthquake or truly catastrophic collision or such is always going to be a sign that the United States needs to reinvest in infrastructure, but this bridge, while not in great shape, wasn't rated among the worst:
The bridge was not classified as structurally deficient, but a Federal Highway Administration database listed it as being "functionally obsolete"—a category meaning that the design is outdated, such as having narrow shoulders and low clearance underneath.

The bridge was built in 1955 and has a sufficiency rating of 57.4 out of 100, according to federal records. That is well below the statewide average rating of 80, according to an Associated Press analysis of federal data, but 759 bridges in the state have a lower sufficiency score.

The collapse will require a detour, making travel between Seattle and Vancouver more difficult. But as we know from experience, it's unlikely to make Republicans in Congress say anything much more about infrastructure investment than "we can't afford it."

Originally posted to Laura Clawson on Fri May 24, 2013 at 04:49 AM PDT.

Also republished by Daily Kos.

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