Milk truck stops council

Traffic on Highway 20 slowed to a crawl Tuesday afternoon when a milk truck driver lost control and his vehicle blocked both lanes of the road near Deception Pass Bridge, which in turn interrupted some civic business on Whidbey Island.

At approximately 3 p.m., a Mount Vernon-based milk truck had just finished making a delivery at Whidbey Market and was heading off the island.

Soon after leaving the market, the truck drifted right and eventually clipped the rock columns that hold the wooden guard rails in place, said Trooper Dave Martin of the Washington State Patrol.

The truck lost its two rear wheels on the passenger side and spun out to where it blocked both lanes of traffic near the old entrance to Deception Pass State Park.

“The only thing that made it so bad was that it blocked both lanes,” Martin said.

Traffic was backed for miles in both directions.

Martin said alternating lanes of traffic were eventually able to squeeze by the accident scene on the north bound shoulder and the accident was finally cleared away by 5:30 p.m.

Clearing the accident took so long because a larger tow truck from Mount Vernon was needed to remove the heavy milk truck. Nothing available locally could handle the load. However, big wrecker was also caught in the slow traffic, Martin said.

The trooper attributed the accident to the driver briefly being inattentive.

There were no injuries, but the accident wreaked havoc with some island events scheduled that night.

The regularly scheduled Coupeville Town Council meeting was canceled because a quorum wasn’t available that night.

Even though council members Molly Hughes and Joe Keeva weren’t able to attend the meeting, Dianne Binder’s attendance would have given the council enough members to conduct business.

However, she was coming from Burlington and got caught up in the slowdown.

“We left Burlington at 4:30 in the afternoon and stopped at Campbell Lake,” Binder said. She and her husband, David, were shopping for the bed and breakfast they operate in Coupeville.

As the cars crawled their way toward the bridge, Dianne Binder noticed several cars had overheated. She finally made it into Coupeville at 6:45 p.m. By then the meeting, which was scheduled to begin at 6:30, had already been canceled.

Coupeville Mayor Nancy Conard was in Mount Vernon Tuesday afternoon and left between 3:30 and 4 p.m., thinking she had plenty of time to make the town council meeting.

That thinking changed when she approached the slowdown.

“I barely got to Sharp’s Corner when traffic slowed to a snail-crawl pace,” Conard said.

She finally arrived in Coupeville around 6:45 p.m.

Conard noted that there wasn’t anything urgent that had to be decided at the council meeting. The agenda for the evening included a special events application and a grant application.

Those things were pushed back to the July 27 Town Council meeting.

Sheilah Crider, a member of Oak Harbor City Council, was also late for a workshop because of the accident. She said traffic was backed up on the island from Deception Pass all the way to Northgate Terrace.

You can reach News-Times reporter Nathan Whalen at or call 675-6611

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