LEWIS COUNTY, Wash. — Northbound Interstate 5 was closed Thursday morning in Lewis County at the interchange with State Route 506 after a truck struck the overpass that carries the state route over the freeway at some point before 10 a.m.
The SR-506 interchange is Exit 60 on I-5, about 70 miles north of Portland. The Washington State Department of Transportation tweeted that debris had fallen into both northbound lanes, and traffic was being detoured off at Exit 60. The agency tweeted just before 3 p.m. that all lanes had been reopened.
Coincidentally, the overpass is already in the middle of an $833,000 repair project after a southbound truck struck the other half of the bridge in July last year. The overpass has been closed since then.
The damage was bad enough to require a full replacement of the western span of the bridge over the southbound lanes, so the bridge as it stands today would be more accurately described as half a bridge, crossing the northbound lanes and then simply ending.
Warning signs posted on the remaining half of the bridge list its clearance as 14 feet, nine inches. In a press release shortly after the first strike last year, WSDOT said the bridge had been struck three times in the previous five years by overheight loads.
Washington state law puts the responsibility on drivers to know their vehicle heights and the bridge clearances along their routes and plan accordingly, the agency said at the time.
WSDOT just yesterday put out a press release announcing that contractors were going to install girders across the freeway for the replacement western span next week, and warning drivers of overnight southbound I-5 closures.
It's unclear whether the damage to eastern span will impact that timeline. Photos published on the WSDOT southwest region Twitter account Thursday showed concrete rubble on the road and severed rebar hanging down from the bridge, but the agency didn't include an estimate about the scale of the damage.