Local Information

Ahoy, drivers! No more waiting for boats on SR 520

Thursday, February 12, 2015 - 13:37

Ian Sterling, WSDOT communications, 206-819-7230
Stacey Howery, WSDOT communications, 206-351-9375

New floating bridge construction to block drawspan

SEATTLE – The era of waiting for boats to pass through the State Route 520 floating bridge is drawing to a close. On Tuesday, Feb. 17, newly placed pontoons will obstruct the drawspan of the existing bridge, permanently blocking marine passage through the bridge opening.

Bridge tenders opened the drawspan of the old floating bridge more than 600 times for boats since construction of the new floating bridge began on the lake in spring 2012. The openings hold up highway traffic for up to 30 minutes.

“This is a major milestone, both for the bridge and for our region,” said Construction Engineering Manager Dave Becher. “When these pontoons are connected next week, the new floating bridge will stretch nearly a mile from the Medina shoreline. We’d like to thank drivers and boaters for their patience as we continue to build the new bridge.”

While openings will no longer occur for marine traffic, crews will still need to open the drawspan for monthly, late-night maintenance work. High winds may also require an opening to relieve stress on the existing bridge.

Since bridge construction activity began on the lake in April, 2012, it has prevented tall boats from passing under the old bridge’s east high-rise. The obstruction of the drawspan will change how boaters navigate past the bridge. The east navigation channel will reopen to marine traffic, with a temporarily reduced height clearance of 58 feet. Once the existing bridge is removed, the clearance for the new bridge’s east navigation channel will be 70 feet, which matches the height of the I-90 East Channel Bridge. The new SR 520 floating bridge will not have a drawspan.

The new bridge—the world’s longest floating highway—features six lanes and a bicycle/pedestrian path. It is designed to resist stronger windstorms than the current floating bridge. The new structure is scheduled to open in spring 2016.

For information on road closures associated with SR 520 construction, please visit the SR 520 Orange Page and follow the project on Twitter.

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