Starting in the 1970s, Washington state bridge inspectors began making note of evidence that large loads were clipping the Interstate 5 span that recently collapsed into the Skagit River.
The hits kept coming. Last year, inspectors encountered perhaps the worst damage yet — a tall vehicle traveling northbound had struck the overhead bridge structure, ripping a 3-inch gash in the steel, causing three portions to distort and tearing off surrounding paint.
The Associated Press found that Washington state's Department of Transportation regularly puts detailed warnings on its trucking permits when routes are projected to encounter problematic areas of low clearance.
But despite the history of issues on the Skagit River bridge, the state never bothered to add warnings to permits for that span.