Local Information

SR 520: Eastbound traffic shifts to the new floating bridge following weekend closure

Thursday, April 21, 2016 - 10:03

Steve Peer, WSDOT Communications, 425-301-2023

MEDINA – Nearly two weeks ago westbound drivers started driving on the new State Route 520 floating bridge over Lake Washington. Now the Washington State Department of Transportation is getting the road ready for east-bounders to experience the world’s longest floating bridge. This weekend contractor crews will close SR 520 to transition eastbound vehicles from the aging, existing structure to the new floating bridge.

The old SR 520 bridge connected Seattle to the eastside for more than five decades. Starting in 1963 during the Kennedy administration, the floating bridge has connected communities through the terms of 10 United States presidents and nine Washington state governors. The old floating bridge has outlived its expected service life and is vulnerable to high winds and strong waves. The bottom line: The time has come to retire the aging 1960s work horse.

“It’s like saying goodbye to an old friend,” said Kathy Rozzini of Bellevue. Rozzini watched the original floating bridge being built in the early 1960s while attending high school. “Like all things in life, we have to keep improving and moving forward. And the new bridge will be doing just that.”

At 11 p.m. Friday, April 22, the last eastbound vehicle will journey across the aging bridge and into the history books. Early Monday morning, April 25, after a weekend of round-the-clock construction to pave, move barrier and stripe the new roadway transitions, the new floating bridge will be open to traffic in both directions.

In addition, two eastside park and rides and transit stops will once again function as planned and the HOV lanes, paired with two general-purpose lanes, will now extend from Redmond to the west end of the new floating bridge.

Closure details:

  • 11 p.m. Friday, April 22 to 5 a.m. Monday, April 25
  • Both the existing and new floating bridges of SR 520 will be closed between 92nd Avenue Northeast on the eastside and Montlake Boulevard in Seattle.

For information on road closures and construction activity associated with SR 520, please visit the SR 520 Orange Page and follow us on Twitter: @wsdot_520.

Next Steps
Once the new floating bridge is open to vehicle traffic, contractor crews will put the finishing touches on the 14-foot-wide shared-use path on the north side of the bridge and open it by the end of May. The path will take eastside bicyclists and pedestrians to the floating bridge’s west end, but it won’t reach Seattle until summer 2017 when crews working on adding westbound lanes from the floating bridge to Montlake finish their work.

Contractor crews will immediately begin to remove and recycle the existing bridge from Lake Washington. The bridge deck, supports and bridge approaches will be recycled, while the pontoons will be floated out of the lake to be used around the world for fishing piers, break waters, and wharfs.

 

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