Following the collapse of a section of the bridge over the Skagit River on Interstate 5, the 42nd District legislative delegation, including me, Rep. Vincent Buys and Rep. Jason Overstreet, issued the following statement.
“Today we give thanks that no deaths or major injuries resulted from the collapse of the I-5 Skagit River bridge in the Burlington and Mt. Vernon area. The fact that everyone involved is accounted for and safe is truly a miracle.
“Our thanks also go out to the first responders who answered the call. Their efforts to keep our communities safe are invaluable and sincerely appreciated.
“Now that we know everyone is safe, our thoughts turn to how this bridge collapse will impact our transportation system, economy and businesses in our area. The effect will radiate across our state as this major transportation artery is a primary route of commerce, carrying over 70,000 vehicles a day in this area.
“As we go through the rebuilding process, we will work closely with officials at all levels of government, as well as our schools and local businesses to minimize the disruption to our communities.
“We are committed to working in a bipartisan fashion with the governor, our fellow legislators from both sides of the aisle and our federal delegation to address the immediate need to rebuild this bridge and reopen this vital transportation corridor.
“We will work to deliver the resources necessary to mitigate the current crisis, provide funds to rebuild the bridge and create an emergency-permitting system to get the bridge operating again in record time.
“Some lawmakers in Olympia have been calling for increases in the gas tax and other transportation fees to fund highway and transit projects. We expect that many will use this event to try to further their cause.
“Let us be clear – any comprehensive transportation funding package in Olympia must include, and be preceded by, comprehensive reform of how we build transportation projects and how much we pay for them. Reform must come first if we are to address the many challenges that we face in our state’s transportation system. More information will emerge in the coming days with regards to comprehensive reform strategies.
“Today we give thanks that everyone is safe, extend our gratitude to first responders and begin the work of rebuilding the bridge.”