A high-traffic bridge in Washington has been shut down indefinitely after an incident with a semi truck caused serious structural damage.
The incident happened at around 11:15 a.m. on Wednesday, December 15th at the 42nd Ave S Bridge in the Allentown neighborhood of Tukwila, Washington.
According to The Seattle Times, a semi truck hauling steel cables was crossing the bridge when it struck one of the overhead beams, spilling the load of cables and damaging one of the bridge beams. The Tukwila Police Department closed the bridge less than 30 minutes after the accident occurred.
“Due to damage sustained to the bridge, it will be closed for an unknown amount of time until engineers can inspect it,” the department tweeted.
“Until that inspection is complete, we can’t speculate on next steps,” said Tukwila City Administrator David Cline. “Once we know more we will share the information with the broader community, along with our plans moving forward.”
Prior to this accident, the Federal Highway Authority had already deemed the 72-year-old bridge “structurally deficient” and “functionally obsolete,” and the city was already planning to replace the bridge by 2025. Now though, the city is most interested in safely reopening the bridge as soon as possible, as the bridge serves as a major route for trucks heading to the BNSF Railway yard, and serves as many as 3,000 trucks and 7,000 cars a day.
The BNSF Railway says it is planning to continue normal operations, and many truckers are using a wooded Interstate 5 overpass to reach the yard, although BNSF spokesperson Lena Kent says that this route is “not ideal” due to a steep slope. Additionally, the city of Tukwila has an emergency alternate route planned should the bridge never reopen, which includes rerouting truck traffic over Steel Mill bridge and residential traffic to S. 115th Street. The city says this route would not be a long-term solution.