The Washington State Transportation Commission voted unanimously Tuesday to rename the I-5 bridge over the Skagit River in honor of Sean M. O’Connell Jr., a state trooper who died after being struck by a truck while working to detour traffic around the collapsed bridge.
State Sen. Kevin Ranker, Mount Vernon Mayor Jill Boudreau and Washington State Patrol Captain Jeff Sass appeared before the commission in Seattle on Tuesday to urge them to approve the name change.
Sen. Ranker said renaming the bridge is the “least we can do as citizens and as representatives” to honor O’Connell for his service.
Sass described O’Connell as “an extremely special human” who was a Little League coach for his young children and was selected as Trooper of the Year in 2003.
O’Connell was one of six motorcycle units working detail detour for the bridge in May after a portion of it collapsed into the river, Sass said. An investigation into the traffic crash that killed O’Connell is ongoing, he said.
“We don’t willy nilly name things for people,” said transportation commission chairman Dan O’Neal before voting. “We want to know there’s support from the community. Your story is a moving story and very big part of how we look at this.”
The bridge will be renamed the Trooper Sean M. O’Connell Jr. Memorial Bridge.
TVW is live webcasting the transportation commission meeting on Tuesday and Wednesday — links are available here.