Tuesday, June 11, 2013
Finding Out When The I-5 Skagit River Bridge Was Actually Built Continues To Be A Mystery
In the picture above you are looking at an aerial view of Interstate 5, under construction, looking north, in the Skagit Valley of Washington. This picture of Interstate 5, under construction, is dated September 6, 1960. A little less than 4 months before the first day of 1961.
Ever since the Interstate 5 bridge across the Skagit River collapsed, multiple sources, multiple times, have had that bridge built in either 1955 or 1956, which contradicts the living memory of many who lived in the Skagit Valley at the time Interstate 5 was constructed.
Below is an example, a blurb taking from an online article, the URL of which was sent by a Skagit Valley librarian, first the article's title, then the blurb...
Skagit River Bridge north of Mount Vernon (later redesignated I-5 Skagit River Bridge) is completed on August 26, 1956.
On August 26, 1956, construction of the Primary State Highway 1 Skagit River Bridge just north of Mount Vernon in Skagit County is completed. It is a steel-truss bridge in four sections that enables the opening of a "limited access highway," a road that will, according to the Department of Highways newsletter, "remove the last major bottleneck between Seattle and Bellingham, making travel to Canada a real joy" Later this bridge will become part of Interstate 5.
This bridge which is alleged to have removed the last major bottleneck between Seattle and Bellingham was built in 1956?
Let us just leave that questionable date alone, for now.
When the I-5 Skagit River Bridge actually opened, in the 1960s, it did not make for a no bottleneck trek north to the Canadian border. The section of I-5, north of Burlington, over Bow Hill, to north Lake Samish, opened sometime in the later 1960s, with the portion from north Lake Samish, to Bellingham, finished even later in the 1960s.
You can clearly see, in the picture above, Interstate 5, at the road bed construction phase of the project, at the location of the I-5 Skagit River Bridge, with the photo documenting the fact that the construction ended, in September of 1960, at about the point where Chuckanut Drive and Highway 99 intersected, west of Burlington Hill.
Like I said, the claim that the I-5 Skagit River Bridge was built in 1955 or 1956 contradicts the living memory of many who lived in the Skagit Valley at that point in time. For example, the email message below...
I was born in Boise, Idaho on July 12, 1952. We moved to Mount Vernon, Washington in 1956. I was less than 4 years old. I don't remember making the move. I was too young to remember such a thing. But, I do remember watching the new bridge across the Skagit River get built. In the 1960s. Not 1955. I was not even living in Washington in 1955. How could I remember that bridge getting built if I was not living in Washington when it was built? I also remember when that section of the freeway opened and dad driving us across that new bridge for the first time.
The Interstate Freeway System was authorized by the Federal Aid Highway Act of 1956. What eventually became Interstate 5 started being constructed in Washington in the early 1960s.
But, the when was the I-5 Skagit River Bridge built confusion continues to be murky.
Below is a document acquired from the Washington State Department of Transportation (WSDOT). This is a blueprint of the I-5 Skagit River Bridge. The information at the lower right corner of the document is surprising.
Looking at the lower right corner of the document one reads "APPROVED: July 29, 1954"....
The message from WSDOT said, in part....
The Skagit River Bridge on I-5 was built by Peter Kiewit Sons, under contract 4794, which was awarded in September of 1954. I have attached a pdf of the Layout sheet from that contract. At that time, the route was designated Primary State Highway No. 1.
Does no library in Skagit County have back issues of the local newspapers on file? Surely the Skagit Valley Herald, the Burlington Journal or the Skagit Argus had articles about the construction and completion of the I-5 Skagit River Bridge.
In ancient times one was able to go to a library and look up old newspapers via a thing called Microfiche. Is there no modern day equivalent of Microfiche?