The U.S. Dept. of Transportation has released the remainder of the federal aid  to finance the repairs and replacement spans for the Interstate 5 bridge over the Skagit River, U.S. Sen. Patty Murray (D-Wash.) said.

Murray opened a June 13 Senate appropriations subcommittee hearing on bridge issues a bit late, but the reason for the delay soon became clear.  Murray, the panel’s chair, said she had just received a call from Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood, telling her U.S. DOT was “releasing the rest of the emergency funds needed to repair the Skagit River Bridge.”

A 160-ft-long span of the bridge collapsed on May 23, after a piece of the cargo carried by a permitted, wide-load truck hit the bridge, sending two vehicles into the river. No one was killed.

After the hearing, Federal Highway Administration chief Victor Mendez, who testified before the subcommittee, told reporters that the total cost of the repairs and new spans is about $17.8 million.

Within 24 hours of the collapse, DOT had released an initial $1 million to the state. The additional funding that Murray announced is $15.6 million, according to Mendez. Washington State will provide the remainder of the cost.

Murray said, “Obviously this is a huge help to the state of Washington—as we have been going through this nightmare—knowing that the federal government’s…going to be there to fund this.” The bridge is a key link on I-5, a major artery from Canada to Washington and the span's collapse has caused lengthy detours for some motorists.

According to the Washington DOT, the construction team on June 10 pushed the first of two, two-lane temporary spans into place and are aiming to have the second temporary span set and the bridge open to traffic on June 20.

Contractor Guy F. Atkinson is working on a permanent replacement for the collapsed section of the bridge, with a completion target of Oct. 1. Mendez told the subcommittee, “We are very committed to making that happen by October 1st.”