BURLINGTON — The investigation into the collapse of the Interstate 5 bridge across the Skagit River continues Wednesday with the National Transportation Safety Board scheduled to interview the driver of the pilot car.
The driver of the pilot car gave a brief statement to the State Patrol on the night of the collision, said Trooper Mark Francis. That statement is not public because the incident is still under investigation.
Francis said the NTSB also still needs to inspect the pilot car itself. Police have not named the pilot car driver because she is considered a witness.
Francis said investigations of this magnitude typically take “months.”
According to the NTSB Twitter feed, investigators will remain on site for a few more days. An NTSB metallurgist will inspect the trusses that have so far been removed from the river.
On Sunday, NTSB Chairman Debbie Hersman said the pilot car was a Dodge Ram Pickup truck equipped with a height measuring pole on the right front corner. Ideally the driver of the pilot car would notify the driver of the truck behind if the pole strikes an object.
The driver of the truck, based out of Alberta, Canada, had a permit for a load as high as 15 feet 9 inches. The bridge at the fog line was 15 feet 6 inches tall, with the height decreasing to 14 feet 6 inches at the barrier. The center of the bridge measures about 18 feet high.
Hersman said an examination of 10 years of data from the DOT indicates that trucks regularly strike this particular bridge.
WSDOT Secretary Lynn Peterson said at a business roundtable today in Burlington that bridge strikes are common.
“It’s a hard thing to say, but our bridges get hit all the time,” Peterson said. “We have a lot of bridges getting hit. We have a lot of repair and maintenance. It depends on how fast and where they strike. Really, it was a freak accident.”