SR 520 Bridge Replacement and HOV Program - Improving transit

rebuilt SR 520 lanes on Eastside

When fully built out, SR 520 will have transit / HOV lanes along its entire length, from
Redmond to I-5. Shown here is a stretch of the reconstructed Eastside corridor.

Improved transit a priority for SR 520 reconstruction

We are designing and building a new SR 520 corridor that not only enhances transportation safety, but improves mobility and reliability for all users, including transit riders, drivers, bicyclists and pedestrians.

Our highway design will better connect transit riders to destinations throughout the region, including downtown Seattle, South Lake Union, the University of Washington, Capitol Hill, and communities on the Eastside. The Seattle Department of Transportation, King County Metro Transit, and Sound Transit are working collaboratively with us on developing multimodal improvements in the SR 520 corridor that support regional transit.

Once fully reconstructed, SR 520 will provide:

  • More reliable bus trips, with transit/HOV lanes between I-5 in Seattle and SR 202 in Redmond, and direct-access ramps on and off the highway.
  • Safer, easier walking and biking connections to bus stops and light rail, wider and better-signalized crosswalks, and local-service bus stops near regional bus stops.
  • Better operations in Montlake, with transit/HOV lanes on Montlake Boulevard, local and regional bus stops on a new Montlake lid, and opportunities for transit-signal priority.
  • Better operations on the Eastside, with median transit stops opened in 2014 beneath new highway lids at Evergreen Point Road and 92nd Avenue Northeast.  

Montlake-area transit updates

Work begins on building a Montlake multimodal transit center; Montlake Freeway Station and temporary off-ramp lane for transit close 

Based on a joint agreement between WSDOT, King County Metro Transit (Metro), Sound Transit and the Seattle Department of Transportation, the Montlake Freeway Station closed in June to prioritize rider safety and enable a shorter construction period for the Montlake Project. WSDOT initially planned to close the station's two stops in March, but coordinated with the Montlake Project contractor to delay the closure until late June.

The closure means Metro routes 252, 255, 257, 268, 311 and 545, Sound Transit (ST) Express routes 545 and 555, and Community Transit route 424 no longer stop in the Montlake area.

Metro routes 167, 271, 277 and ST routes 540, 541, 542 and 556 continue to use bus stops along Montlake Boulevard East and at the University of Washington Link station. Bus riders with bikes can board at stops that are open during construction. 

In preparation for closure of the freeway bus stops, WSDOT partnered with Sound Transit to provide funding for evening and weekend service on Sound Transit Route 542 (Redmond – University of Washington). As of March, riders on this route have expanded evening service and seven-days-a-week service, including to the University of Washington Link station.

WSDOT, King County Metro and Sound Transit  will continue providing riders with information on bus access and service throughout Montlake Project construction. You can sign up for transit-rider alerts from King County Metro Transit and Sound Transit, and find project updates on our SR 520 Montlake Project webpage.

Temporary transit-only lane closed on westbound SR 520 exit to Montlake Boulevard

photo of bus jump lane at Montlake Boulevard

The temporary transit-only lane on westbound SR 520 exit to Montlake Boulevard closed
Aug. 6 to enable the start of major construction on the Montlake Project. 

Based on feedback from transit riders, WSDOT opened a temporary transit-only lane in October 2018 along the shoulder of the westbound SR 520 off-ramp to Montlake Boulevard. The lane allowed bus operators to “jump the queue” of vehicles waiting to exit SR 520 in the off-ramp's general-purpose lanes. WSDOT initially planned to close this temporary bus-only lane in March 2019, but delayed the closure in recognition of the value the lane provided transit riders. In coordination with the Montlake Project contractor, the lane closed Aug. 6 to provide necessary space for the start of major Montlake Project construction.

Montlake Project features landscaped lid, multimodal transit center

map of SR 520 Montlake Project key elements, including a lid over the highway, a transit hub, and a bicycle and pedestrian land bridge over the highway.

See a larger image of the map above. (pdf 9 mb)

Upon completion of the SR 520 Montlake Project, a new, landscaped Montlake lid will include a multimodal transit center for local and regional bus service, replacing the function of the current, highway-level Montlake Freeway Station.

Relocating the highway-level stops to the top of the new Montlake lid:

  • Creates convenient, ADA-accessible connections between regional and local bus routes in the Montlake area.
  • Provides quicker, safer access on and off the highway for transit riders via direct-access ramps that will carry buses
    to and from the lid's transit station.
  • Connects bus riders to safer pedestrian crossings along Montlake Boulevard East.

Please visit the Montlake Project page for updates.

  
SR 520/I-5 Express Lanes Connection

To help meet rising travel demand between the Eastside’s growing cities and Seattle’s booming South Lake Union area, WSDOT is planning to construct a reversible transit/HOV connection between SR 520 and the I-5 express lanes, with direct access to Mercer Street. This new connection, initially planned to open in 2029, will now open as early as 2023 for transit. Carpool access will come after a new Portage Bay Bridge and Roanoke lid are constructed.

    Please visit the SR 520/I-5 Express Lanes Connection Project webpage for updates.

      
    New transit infrastructure complete on Eastside, floating bridge

    SR520 Eastside transit station

    The Eastside's new SR 520 median transit stops provide safer, easier transit access.

    In 2014, transit riders on SR 520 saw major improvements in the way their buses move on the Eastside. Two years later, we further enhanced the corridor’s transit operations when we opened the new, six-lane floating bridge on Lake Washington. SR 520’s transit and HOV improvements are decreasing travel times, prioritizing bus trips, reducing unsafe merges, and providing a more reliable trip for transit riders between the Eastside and Seattle.

    The Eastside’s new transit infrastructure includes:

    • One continuous transit/HOV lane on SR 520 in each direction from Medina to I-405, with transit/HOV lanes moved to the inside.
    • Landscaped lids with ADA-compliant, median transit stops below the lids at Evergreen Point Road and 92nd Avenue Northeast, which provide a safer, more pleasant rider experience than previous roadside stops.
    • Direct-access ramps at 108th Avenue Northeast that make it safer and quicker for buses and carpools to enter and exit the highway's HOV lanes.

    The new floating bridge, unlike its four-lane predecessor, also has transit/HOV lanes in both directions. With the 2017 opening of the new, three-lane West Approach Bridge North across Union Bay, buses and carpools now have their own lane, east and west, between Redmond and Seattle’s Montlake neighborhood.

    (Note: During Montlake Project construction, we will remove the old, 1960s-era west approach bridge and build a new, parallel West Approach Bridge South for eastbound traffic. During this time, all traffic between Montlake and the floating bridge will travel on the West Approach Bridge North, with two general-purpose lanes in each direction, and no transit/HOV lanes.)

    The Montlake Multimodal Center

    photo of the Montlake Triangle multimodal center
    An aerial view of the Montlake Multimodal Center, in the foreground looking northwest, with the
    UW Medical Center at left, and Husky Stadium at right.

    The Montlake Multimodal Center is a transportation hub in the triangle-shaped property known as the Montlake Triangle, across from the University Link light-rail station near Husky Stadium.

    Completed in 2016 with support from WSDOT, the Montlake Multimodal Center is a key regional transit destination with connections to the University of Washington, UW Medical Center, local and regional buses, regional bicycle and pedestrian trails and the University Link light rail station. WSDOT worked closely with King County Metro Transit, Sound Transit, the University of Washington and the Seattle Department of Transportation to prioritize safe, efficient connections for pedestrians and bicyclists to reach their destinations.

    Together, these agencies designed and built a grade-separated overcrossing that allows pedestrians and bicyclists to travel to and from the Montlake Multimodal Center without having to cross busy streets or wait at a crosswalk.