OLYMPIA — Washington will spend $150,000 from the Economic Development Strategic Reserve for a program to let the public know that businesses in and around Skagit County are open, even though a section of the I-5 bridge is down.
Gov. Jay Inslee today said he directed the state Commerce Department to tap the reserve to help get the word out about alternate routes while the state works on a temporary and a permanent fix to the Skagit River Bridge. The money will be used for marketing and promotion efforts, not just for Skagit but for Whatcom, San Juan and Island counties, who are likely to feel the pinch. The state may also apply for a disaster declaration from the Small Business Administration after it collects data on the economic impact.
Money from the reserve will be used to develop a marketing program to tell people what businesses and attractions are open and how to access them on alternate routes or ferries.
“People need to know that these counties are open for business and that the bridge collapse need not interfere with vacation, business or recreation plans,” Commerce Director Brian Bonlender said in press release announcing the money.
A section of the 58-year-old bridge collapsed into the river last Thursday evening after a truck collided with some of the support structure. Traffic will be detoured to other bridges at least until next month while a temporary replacement section is built and installed. A more permanent replacement section might be finished by September.