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SR 520 - Boater Information

 Updated: Aug. 3, 2017

To receive updates about boating activities and navigation restrictions on Lake Washington,
email us .

New buoys near SR 520 navigation channels 

In response to concerns from boaters, we have changed the buoys near the navigation channels at the ends of the new floating bridge. The smaller, white buoys have been replaced with large, bright orange buoys that include reflective elements. (See photo below.)

These buoys indicate the location of shallow, submerged anchor cables that secure the new floating bridge. 

Image of new buoys at southwest corner of new SR 520 floating bridge.
New buoys at the southwest corner of the new SR 520 floating bridge. See high-resolution image on Flickr.

Current navigation restrictions

Because of ongoing construction of the new West Approach Bridge North (WABN), boaters should be vigilant and navigate with care. Use appropriate boater etiquette and follow speed limits near construction activities to keep you and our construction crews safe.

Mariners should continue to maintain a safe distance and limit wake around all floating derrick (crane) barges and other construction vessels within the SR 520 project area. These vessels currently are anchored and may present submerged hazards. Work zones around some derrick barges are marked with red/white buoy strings.

Restrictions for canoers and kayakers on Lake Washington

Crews will continue on-lake construction activities near the Montlake shoreline and the Arboretum during the upcoming Montlake Phase of SR 520 construction. Cranes and other waterborne construction equipment limit water access under SR 520 near the Arboretum. Canoers and kayakers should use caution when navigating near the construction zone and stay at least 150 feet away from all construction equipment.

While many of the canoe/kayak landings in the area remain open during construction, we recommend using the launches in the Arboretum or at the University of Washington's Waterfront Activities Center . If you are unsure which boat launch to use, take a look at the map below and/or contact our construction hotline at 206-708-4657 .

The map also shows parking access areas. Some previously available parking areas are now construction staging areas and are not publicly accessible.

Canoe and kayak access map
Larger, printable map (pdf 77 kb)

Floating bridge navigation channels

The east and west navigation channels under the new floating bridge are open, but may be blocked periodically for critical construction work. During these blockages, marine vessels should plan to navigate through the unaffected channel (see below for navigational height restrictions). At least one navigation channel will always be open and accessible to boaters. 

Graphic of east and west navigation channels under SR 520
Navigation changes on Lake Washington at SR 520.
Larger, printable version (pdf .3 MG)

East navigation channel's clearance under the new SR 520 floating bridge

At the east navigation channel, boaters will see two signs indicating clearance. Both signs are gauges posted at the water level to show the clearance for boaters at the current water level. The graphic below shows the east navigation channel's clearance under the new SR 520 floating bridge.

A sign currently is posted on the pontoon located at the west side of the channel. While this sign is a gauge, as shown below, the sign will always show a clearance of 70 feet at water level since the pontoon rises and falls with changes in water levels on Lake Washington.

Another sign is posted on the fixed, east approach column along the east side of the channel. The clearance is 65 feet at the east end of the channel, so boaters will see that portion of the sign at water level. As water levels lower, the clearance on the east side of the channel may rise to approximately 67 feet.

East navigation channel gauges
East navigation channel height under the new SR 520 floating bridge.
Larger, printable version (pdf 6.3 mb)

Nautical mile markers

The new SR 520 floating bridge has nautical mile markers to indicate distance for boaters on Lake Washington. The markers are placed on both the north and south sides of the bridge. The graphic linked below shows the layout for the nautical mile markers.

Nautical mile markers
Larger, printable version (pdf 4.16 mb)