Trucker ‘felt crowded,’ then hit bridge

The Associated PressJune 12, 2013 

The driver of an oversize load that triggered an Interstate 5 bridge collapse told investigators that he felt “crowded” by a passing vehicle and moved closer to the side of the bridge that had less clearance, says a preliminary federal report released Tuesday.

A brief assessment issued by the National Transportation Safety Board said the oversize load collided with the far right side of the truss structure May 23, resulting in the collapse of the bridge into the Skagit River.

The driver reported that his load was 15 feet, 9 inches tall while the lowest portion of the bridge braces was just 14 feet, 8 inches.

The NTSB has been looking to speak with the driver of the truck and trailer that passed the oversize load, but board spokesman Peter Knudson said officials still have not found the person or vehicle.

“We want to find out what the driver’s perspective was,” Knudson said.

Both trucks made it across the bridge before it collapsed, but two other vehicles fell into the water and three people were rescued with minor injuries.

Traffic on the interstate has been detoured since, causing congestion and delays. The main highway between Seattle and Vancouver, B.C., typically carries 71,000 vehicles a day.

Crews hope to have a temporary span in place next week.

A final report on the accident still is months away, but Tuesday’s filing laid out many of the details.

The operator of the pilot vehicle told investigators that the clearance pole on the front of her vehicle was set at 16 feet, 2 inches high — leaving space over the top of the load.

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