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Visitors coming to Coupeville despite Skagit bridge collapse

Owners of lodging establishments in and around Coupeville aren't seeing a large loss of Memorial Day weekend business in the wake of the Skagit River Bridge collapse Thursday evening on Interstate 5 between Burlington and Mount Vernon.

The collapse will affect the I-5 corridor from Everett north, said Marshall Bronson, owner of Compass Rose Bed and Breakfast who is also on the board for Island County Tourism.

Lynda Eccles, executive director for the Coupeville Chamber of Commerce, said she was grateful that nobody appears to have been seriously injured.

To gauge how the bridge collapse would affect local businesses, she emailed all lodging establishments on Central Whidbey Island to see if they have had any cancellations for the holiday weekend.

As of shortly before noon Friday, she only heard of one person canceling their reservation this weekend.

Anchorage Inn staff said they have been fielding questions from people saying they may be late when they visit.

"Everybody is still coming," said Linda Smith, inn-sitter at the Anchorage Inn near downtown Coupeville.

She said that people have been calling to say they may be late and asking the best way to reach Whidbey Island.

She had guests Friday who wanted to visit Deception Pass as they leave Whidbey Island. She gave them directions around the Mount Vernon area.

Like the Anchorage Inn, Bronson said nobody has canceled their reservation to stay in his two-room bed and breakfast.

Traffic on I-% is being diverted to a nearby bridge and the Washington State Department of Transportation provided alternate routes to detour traffic around the downed bridge.

Bronson said he was concerned the potential of a traffic backup may discourage visitors from Canada to visit Whidbey Island. He said he expected visitors from Seattle would take the ferry.

Eccles, however, said she doesn't think tourism will be effected because Coupeville is easily accessible from both sides of the island.

The collapse came just before a busy weekend in the Central Whidbey town. Coupeville is home to a Memorial Day parade and veteran remembrance ceremony.

Around 70 groups are marching in Saturday's parade and people can also enjoy a hot dog lunch organized by the Central Whidbey Lions Club.

"It's well worth coming," Eccles said.

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