A smart idea emerges from a near-tragedy

Looking back at the collapse of a portion of the I-5 bridge over the Skagit River in Spring 2013, it still seems somewhat miraculous that, on such a busy freeway, no lives were lost that day. Soon after the collapse, the state Department of Transportation acted quickly to replace the collapsed section and get people and goods moving again on a thoroughfare that is absolutely critical to Washington’s economy.

We all hope that no similar incidents occur in our state again, but we know it’s certainly possible. Many aging bridges around the state are deemed “structurally deficient” (to see the list of bridges in your county, click here). Those bridges will have to be replaced.

Now Rep. Hans Zeiger (R-Puyallup) has a smart bill out to address the problem of structurally deficient bridges. His HB 1219 would allow for expedited permitting to replace deficient bridges. The bipartisan bill would help reduce costs and waiting times on these projects.

Zeiger’s idea was spurred by the Skagit incident. “The Skagit River Bridge collapse in 2013 proved we could replace bridges more efficiently and effectively under federal law, and we should use that model to address the state’s structurally deficient bridges.”

After the Department of Transportation’s quick work in Skagit, many wondered if the Department of Transportation could learn some broader lessons from it about reducing project timelines and save taxpayer dollars. This bill from Zeiger, who is a true leader on transportation, is a step in the right direction.
-Rob McKenna

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Rob McKenna
Rob served two terms as Washington’s Attorney General, from 2005 to 2013. He successfully argued three cases before the U.S. Supreme Court and negotiated three of the largest consumer financial protection settlements in national history, all involving mortgage lending and servicing. He is a recognized leader in the development of consumer protections on the internet, in data protection and privacy regulation.