SR 520 Bridge Replacement and HOV Program - News and updates

Oct. 12, 2018 | Rest of the west news

City of Seattle accepting comments on relocation of wireless-communications facility

The Seattle Department of Construction and Inspections (SDCI) is accepting public comments on Crown Castle’s permit application to temporarily relocate a wireless-communications facility to the WSDOT Peninsula. Crown Castle is required to remove its existing cell tower – located next to the Montlake Market – and is proposing to erect a new, temporary structure on the WSDOT Peninsula, next to the WSDOT construction staging area. The structure would remain on the peninsula through the completion of SR 520 Program construction. The new, temporary structure’s design is proposed to resemble a fir tree to better blend into the surrounding area.

The SDCI has published Crown Castle’s conditional-use permit application for public review and comment. The application can be found on the SDCI’s Seattle Services Portal (Record #3032615-LU). The SDCI is accepting comments through Oct. 24. You can comment in the following ways:

  • Mail: SDCI/PRC, P.O. Box 34019
    Seattle, WA 98124-4019
  • Email:

The conditional-use permit application materials include a NEPA reevaluation, which is available with the other permit application materials, and on the SR 520 website (pdf 35 mb). In addition, WSDOT has prepared a Frequently Asked Questions (pdf 185 kb) document about Crown Castle’s proposal.


Oct. 10, 2018 | Rest of the west news

Gearing up for work: Graham Contracting announced as apparent best value proposer for Montlake Project

We accomplished another SR 520 Program milestone today by announcing that Graham Contracting Ltd. submitted the contract proposal with the apparent best value for the upcoming Montlake Project. In the coming weeks, we’ll finalize the $455.3 million contract with Graham and prepare for construction in early 2019.

The Montlake Project includes construction of an improved Montlake Boulevard interchange, a landscaped lid over SR 520, a bicycle and pedestrian "land bridge" east of the lid, and a three-lane West Approach Bridge South over Union Bay for eastbound traffic. 

As we get closer to construction, we’ll work with Graham to make sure communications tools are in place for project neighbors and corridor travelers to help them stay informed, know what to expect, and receive answers to questions. Before construction begins, we’ll also hold a public open house to share more information about the Montlake Project. As always, you can find the latest information on our website and Twitter. You also can call us (206-770-3554) or email us at

New transit-only shoulder lane open on westbound Montlake Boulevard off-ramp

A highway off-ramp is filled with cars and three buses are utilizing a bus only lane.

Crews worked overnight this past weekend to restripe the westbound SR 520 Montlake Boulevard off-ramp and create a temporary, transit-only shoulder lane. The lane opened to traffic Sunday morning (Oct. 7), ahead of schedule, in time for the weekday commute. We made this modification after hearing feedback from transit riders. The change allows bus drivers to “jump the queue” of waiting cars at the exit. While we’re still gathering data, anecdotally we’ve heard from several bus riders that it’s already reducing their travel times. This lane is temporary; we expect it to be in place for about six months until the area undergoes reconstruction as part of the upcoming SR 520 Montlake Project.

Registration now open for the Montlake Turkey Trot!

A group of people stand under a banner that reads Montlake Turkey Trot start.

Registration is now open for the Montlake Community Club's 5K Turkey Trot & Kids Run through the beautiful Washington Park Arboretum. On Thanksgiving morning, enjoy exercise and do good before diving into turkey dinner. Net proceeds benefit the University District Food Bank. Bring your friends, visiting family, strollers, and kids! Sign up by Nov. 4 for early-bird pricing.


Sep. 26, 2018 | Program news of the week

Looking ahead: updated schedule for remaining SR 520 construction in Seattle

As the temperatures start cooling and the leaves start falling, it’s a time of looking ahead – to the new school year, the upcoming holiday season, and 2019. Here on the SR 520 Program, we’re looking ahead too – to the next phase of SR 520 reconstruction, the Montlake Project, scheduled to begin early next year. While we look ahead, we wanted to reach out and provide a quick update on our remaining SR 520 work in Seattle, what we call “the Rest of the West.”

Our construction schedule for the Rest of the West sequences the work so we can keep traffic flowing while building multiple corridor improvements, reduce overlap between contractors, and finish the projects as efficiently as possible.

Here are some key updates about the SR 520/I-5 connection:

  • The SR 520/I-5 Express Lanes Connection Project features the new reversible transit/HOV ramp between SR 520 and the I-5 express lanes. We plan to deliver these improvements earlier than initially anticipated, as a separate project from the Portage Bay Bridge replacement and new Roanoke lid.
  • We now expect to begin construction of the SR 520/I-5 Express Lanes Connection Project in 2020 and open the connection to transit in 2023. Carpool access will be added once the Portage Bay Bridge replacement is complete.
  • The reversible lane will also connect SR 520 to Seattle’s booming South Lake Union neighborhood with an exit at Mercer Street.
  • Check out this short animation video, which shows how the new express lane connection will operate in the interim and permanent configurations.

Below, we’ve listed additional details and our current plan for each step of the SR 520 construction remaining in Seattle.

A map of the Montlake area in Seattle with four state route 520 projects highlighted in various colors and labeled with various project elements.

Montlake Project

Key elements:

  • Constructs the three-lane West Approach Bridge South structure to carry eastbound traffic from Montlake to the floating bridge.
  • Builds a Montlake lid with transit/HOV direct-access ramps, a multimodal transportation hub, and regional transit stops.
  • Creates a pedestrian and bicycle land bridge over SR 520, east of the Montlake lid.

SR 520 / I-5 Express Lanes Connection Project

Key elements:

  • Adds a new, reversible transit/HOV connection between SR 520 and Seattle’s South Lake Union neighborhood alongside I-5’s express lanes.
  • Completes this dedicated transit/HOV connection between the Eastside and Seattle’s South Lake Union area with a modification to the existing Mercer Street ramp.

Montlake Cut Bascule Bridge Project

Key elements:

  • Plan includes a second, parallel bascule bridge over the Montlake Cut.

WSDOT will begin additional coordination with community stakeholders and agency partners regarding the project scope.

Portage Bay Bridge and Roanoke Lid Project

Key elements:

  • Replaces the old Portage Bay Bridge with two new parallel structures (one for both eastbound and westbound traffic).
  • Extends the SR 520 Trail across Portage Bay.
  • Builds a landscaped Roanoke lid to reconnect communities on either side of SR 520.
  • Completes a wider, safer connection over I-5 for bicyclists and pedestrians.

Staying informed

As we get closer to Montlake Project construction, we’ll work with our selected contractor to provide a suite of communications tools to project neighbors and corridor travelers to help you stay informed, know what to expect, and get answers to questions. As always, you can find the latest information on our website and Twitter, and you can call (206-770-3554) or email us at


Aug. 16, 2018 | Rest of the West news

Update on upcoming Montlake Phase construction

Montlake Boulevard Market and 76 gas station property acquisition update

Since 2016, WSDOT has been working to acquire the property where the market and gas station are located. The property is needed to construct various permanent project improvements for the SR 520 reconstruction program. On April 30, 2018, the state Court of Appeals affirmed a Sept. 6, 2017, King County Superior Court ruling that the property is needed for public use and that WSDOT may proceed to acquire the property from the owners. In August the Court of Appeals' ruling was appealed to the Washington Supreme Court. On Oct. 2, the Supreme Court declined to hear the case, upholding the lower courts' decisions. Meanwhile, we are working with tenants to relocate their businesses, including four wireless service providers currently operating on the property, as described further below.

WSDOT is also continuing to address a provision in the state Legislature’s 2018 supplemental transportation budget (Engrossed Substitute Senate Bill 6106) regarding the Montlake Market. The proviso states: 

“The legislature recognizes the department [WSDOT] must acquire the entirety of parcel number 1-23190 for construction of the project. The department shall work with its design-build contractor to ensure to the maximum extent practicable that the building housing any grocery store or market currently located on parcel number 1-23190 will be preserved. The legislature recognizes the city of Seattle has requirements in the project area that the department must address and that those requirements may affect the use of parcel number 1-23190 and may affect the ability of the department to preserve any grocery store or market currently located on the property. The department shall meet and confer regularly with residents in the vicinity of the parcel regarding the status of the project and its effects on any grocery store or market currently located on the property. The legislature strongly encourages the city to utilize maximum flexibility in how the department meets the city’s requirements and to be an equal partner in efforts to preserve any grocery store or market on parcel number 1-23190.” 

We have been working to review engineering and regulatory requirements for the Montlake Phase that have a direct impact on the Montlake Market building. At this time, WSDOT has not found a way to build the project and preserve the market building. After WSDOT selects a contractor later this year, we will work with the contractor to evaluate potential options that may allow preservation of the Montlake Market building. [Note: this story was updated 10/11/2018]

Environmental evaluation of Montlake Market removal 

In October 2016, we completed a National Environmental Policy Act reevaluation regarding design refinements to the West Approach Bridge South and Montlake lid. As part of our ongoing evaluation of the SR 520 project, we recently completed an evaluation of the environmental impacts of removing the market building. The July 2018 evaluation included an analysis of the neighborhood traffic, community, noise and environmental effects if the Montlake Boulevard Market were closed and the building removed. We know there are additional questions from the community and we will be responding to those questions shortly.

You can view the full July 2018 (pdf 1.111 mb) and October 2016 reevaluations (pdf 3.55 mb) on our website.