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Cleanup progresses on bridge wreck

MOUNT VERNON, Wash. — Crews are making progress at the collapsed Interstate 5 bridge on the Skagit River that has detoured traffic on the main route between Seattle and Vancouver, British Columbia, the Washington Transportation Department reported Wednesday.

About three-fourths of the wreckage that fell into the water last Thursday has been removed, agency spokesman Bart Treece said. ‘‘We’ve got a good chunk of all the debris removed,’’ Treece said. ‘‘But the bridge deck is tough. It’s a matter of breaking it up and removing.’’

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Some places have to be kept intact for the National Transportation Safety Board inquiry.

The next step will be an inspection of the bridge piers for damage. After that, the department will have a better idea whether it can meet the governor’s challenge to install a temporary bridge in June.

Two of 10 truckloads of temporary bridge parts have arrived from Washougal, Wash., and New Jersey, Treece said. The bridge collapsed after a tractor-trailer with an oversize load clipped a steel truss on the span, sending a car and pickup truck with a trailer into the river. A couple in the pickup and a man in the car escaped their wrecked vehicles and the frigid water with minor injuries.

On Wednesday, the NTSB planned to interview the driver of the pilot car that was leading the tractor-trailer to find out why it hit the truss.

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