Local Information

WSDOT milestone: Eastbound drivers join westbound traffic on the new SR 520 floating bridge

Monday, April 25, 2016 - 13:14

Steve Peer, WSDOT communications, 425-301-2023


Transition to the new bridge complete; old bridge to be decommissioned

SEATTLE – At 1:30 this morning, Monday, April 25, the Washington State Department of Transportation accomplished a significant and long-awaited milestone: crews opened the eastbound lanes across the new State Route 520 floating bridge, completing the transfer of traffic onto the $1.3 billon structure.

Two weeks ago westbound drivers made history when they crossed the floating structure for the first time. This morning, however, was the first time vehicles travelled across the world’s newest and longest floating bridge in both directions.

The final traffic transfer is the crowning achievement of the SR 520 Floating Bridge and Landings Project, which replaces the existing bridge across Lake Washington with a safer structure that includes transit/HOV lanes, wide shoulders and a new bicycle and pedestrian path.

“I want to thank commuters for their patience as we built this unique floating bridge,” said SR 520 Program Administrator Julie Meredith. “This is a great day for our bridge users. Starting with this morning’s commute, drivers will be using this structure for at least 75 more years.”

Shifting traffic onto the new bridge allows WSDOT to begin decommissioning the old, structurally vulnerable floating bridge that opened in 1963. For the next several months, crews will methodically remove the structure from the lake – recycling the bridge deck and approaches, and floating the old pontoons out the same way the new pontoons came in, through the Ballard Locks. The contractor charged with building the new bridge also is responsible for removing the old bridge. The old pontoons have been sold to a broker to be used around the world as fishing piers, breakwater barriers and wharfs.

Up next
Crews still need to put the finishing touches on several elements of the new bridge, including the regional shared-use path that runs along the north side of the bridge. The new path, expected to open next month, will initially be an out-and-back experience from the Eastside for pedestrians, joggers, bike riders and roller skaters. When the West Approach Bridge North is completed in 2017, however, the path will extend from Seattle to the Eastside.

For up-to-date information on highway closures and construction activity associated with SR 520, please visit the SR 520 Orange Page, or follow the project on Twitter.


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