TODAY   |  May 25, 2013

Oversize truck is to blame in bridge collapse

The Skagit River Bridge was listed as "functionally obsolete" by the Federal Highway Administration last year, which meant it was structurally sound but had an outdated design. The bridge didn't hold up, however, when an oversize truck crashed into it, collapsing the bridge and sending cars into the water. NBC's Ayman Mohyeldin

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This content comes from Closed Captioning that was broadcast along with this program.

>>> mt. vernon, washington, for the very latest. good morning.

>> reporter: good morning. the bridge sits on one of washington state 's busiest corridor, i-5 linking seattle to vancouver, canada. 70,000 cars pass this bridge every day and officials are trying to redirect traffic to the other side of the river without disrupting communities here but so far they are struggling to do that. more importantly, they are trying to determine what exactly happened here. this new video shows the moment an oversized truck struck the river bridge collapsing it and sending two vehicles on a 25-foot plunge.

>> the bridge over i-5 just collapsed. with very vehicles in the water.

>> reporter: all three people inside those cars survived. federal and state inspect yoors say a truck with an oversized low is to blame.

>> a heavy vehicle crashed into not just one but probably multiple girders on the bridge and it failed.

>> reporter: the truck driver is being questioned by investigators. his wife says her husband is okay.

>> he is shaken up. he was really scared for the people that were, who had fallen off the bridge . he was really happy to hear that they were fine. to see that they were fine. that was a blessing.

>> the bridge about 1,100 feet long was built in 1955 . it was listed as functionally obsolete which means the design is outdated but structurally sound.

>> it was generally a healthy bridge . it could continue to operate. that doesn't mean that there aren't things that could have been done to improve bridge .

>> reporter: experts say bridges across the country are vulnerable. according to the american society of civil engineers , one in nine of the nation's bridges are rated as structurally deficient.

>> there are more structurally deficient bridges in our big cities than there are mcdonald franchises nationwide.

>> reporter: officials are scrambling to redirect traffic across the river as swiftly as possible. investigators also say they've spoken to that truck driver . he voluntarily took a blood and alcohol test that he passed voluntarily as we emphasize. officials here say that it could be weeks before this bridge is reopened. the federal government has given a million dollars and is expected to give a million dollars but some officials say it could take $50 million to repair the bridge and get it back to a functioning state.