By Steve Guntli
The Birch Bay-Lynden Road overpass was temporarily closed after it was sruck by an overheight truck on May 21.
Douglas J. Bianchi of Mount Vernon was driving a flatbed truck hauling a large excavator south on I-5 at 10:35 a.m. when the boom of the excavator clipped the overpass, sending shards of concrete raining down on the freeway. The overpass clearance is 15 feet, 11 inches tall; the height of the excavator came to 16 feet, 7 inches.
No one was injured in the accident, though the debris damaged three or four cars.
Washington State Patrol officers responded to the scene. Following the accident, Bianchi pulled into the Custer rest area to speak with state troopers.
The right southbound lane of I-5 was closed so engineers from the Washington State Department of Transportation (WSDOT) Bridge Preservation Office could evaluate the structural damage. The overpass itself was closed down until the inspection was complete.
According to WSDOT spokesman Tom Pearce, bridge engineers discovered that one of the two girders would need to be replaced. The other received minor damage and will be repaired. WSDOT officials are considering the scope and timing of the repairs and estimate they will cost more than $1 million.
All southbound I-5 lanes were reopened by 5:45 p.m. The westbound lane of the overpass will remain closed until repairs are made. Temporary traffic signals will alternate traffic on Birch Bay-Lynden Road.
Bianchi was cited for carrying a load over the legal height limit, which carries a $144 fine. Bianchi, who owns Bianchi Construction in Mount Vernon, could be liable for overpass repairs and for fixing the damaged cars.
This post was updated to correct the damage to the girders on the overpass.