Updated: Feb. 8, 2016
The east and west navigation channels will be periodically blocked for critical construction activities. During these blockages, marine vessels should plan to navigate through the unaffected channel (see below for navigational height restrictions).
Planned, temporary channel blockages of east navigation channel*
On Friday, Feb. 12 east navigation channel open to boaters
Through Friday, Feb. 12, the east navigation channel will be intermittently, partially blocked by a flat deck spud barge to continue work on the new floating bridge. If boaters with vessels with a navigation clearance greater than 43 feet need to navigate around the floating bridge, please contact tugboat Big Eagle on VHF-FM Ch. 16 for access. Mariners should be prepared to wait for safe passage, but construction crews will make adjustments to allow them through the east navigation channel when requested.
On Friday, Feb. 12, the east navigation channel will open in the temporarily narrowed configuration that has been in place since October 2015. See Section C in the graphic below.
*Please note, dates may change due to the dynamic, weather-dependent nature of construction. This page will be updated as new information becomes available.
West navigation channel closed from Feb. 12 to Feb. 26
The West Navigation Channel will be closed to boaters for approximately two weeks between Friday, Feb. 12, and Friday, Feb. 26.
During this time, vessels up to 58 feet tall can continue to navigate around the floating bridge through the East Navigation Channel which will remain open during this time. See Section A in the graphic below.
Click image for printable version. (pdf 2.5 mb)
Important restrictions to note (boats over 58 feet tall)
Vessels more than 58 feet tall will not be able to navigate beyond SR 520 until the existing bridge is removed from Lake Washington, currently planned for late 2016. The new floating bridge will not have a drawspan, but the east navigation channel will be 70 feet tall, the same as the I-90 East Channel Bridge.
SR 520 drawspan closed, east navigation channel open
On the morning of Tuesday, Feb. 17 , construction activities for the new floating bridge permanently blocked the drawspan on the existing SR 520 floating bridge.
At the same time, the east navigation channel was reopened, allowing boats up to 58 feet tall to navigate around both the existing floating bridge and construction for the new floating bridge. Except for in the case of any construction closures noted above, the west navigation channel remains open to vessels up to 45 feet tall. (pdf 954 kb)
Boaters, email us to stay informed.
Have questions? Please read through our drawspan obstruction common questions and answers document to learn more.
SR 520 navigation channel restrictions
An exclusion zone is also active immediately north and south of the western-most pontoon. This off-limits zone is marked by six white buoys and a sign on each end of the pontoon. Please note, the white buoys represent the locations of the anchor lines and it is dangerous to pass between the sign and the buoys.
The east navigation channel under the SR 520 bridge is currently operating with reduced clearance. Navigational clearances are higher on the east side of the channel, but obstructions north of the channel reduce the navigational height to 58 feet. Boats taller than 58 feet should not attempt to navigate through the channel.
If your vessel, mast or other aerial equipment is over 58 feet tall and cannot be lowered please do not attempt to navigate around the floating bridge.
Also, please note that the U.S. Coast Guard has established a temporary safety zone around the east span of the SR 520 floating bridge through the end of December 2015. During this time, boaters are prohibited from entering all waters within 100 yards of the east span, unless within the navigation channel. This zone is in place to protect boaters and bridge crews while construction barges are located in the navigation channel under the east span of the bridge.
On Tuesday, Feb. 17, newly placed pontoons obstructed the drawspan of the existing bridge, permanently blocking marine passage through the bridge opening. 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.