While the State Route 520 floating bridge connecting Seattle to points east over Lake Washington may have opened in spring 2016, it didn’t mark the full completion of the project off the water. That time nears, as major work this summer will finalize all westbound lanes and the roadway alignments ahead of this fall’s finishing touches before a new phase starts in 2018.
This past weekend, the Montlake Bridge and the westbound State Route 520 off-ramp to Montlake Boulevard closed so maintenance crews could replace sections of the bridge’s aging grid deck. That closure comes before this weekend’s full closure from 11 p.m. on Aug. 25 through 5 a.m. on Aug. 28.
Closing all lanes and ramps of westbound SR 520 between 92nd Ave. NE and Montlake Boulevard and eastbound between Interstate 5 and 92nd Ave. NE allows crews to work around the clock to pave new lanes, install new signs and stripe the new roadway. Crews can also finish a new westbound SR 520 transit platform in Montlake, complete the tie-in from the new lanes to the existing westbound lanes and removing part of an old ramp.
When the work wraps up and opens next week to drivers, expect a new West Approach Bridge North and a total of three westbound lanes between Montlake and the bridge. For the first time, westbound drivers heading to I-5 will drive straight onto the new approach bridge instead of curving left at the end of the floating bridge and traveling into Seattle on the old west approach structure. Also, carpoolers and bus riders will see their HOV lane extend farther west from the new floating bridge.
The Aug. 28 opening of the West Approach Bridge North’s mainline marks the second of three major project milestones scheduled for 2017. Last month, bridge owner Washington State Dept of Transportation opened new westbound off-ramps in Montlake and later this fall they plan to extend the shared-use trail from the floating bridge to Montlake, giving bicyclists and pedestrians a new, safer route across Lake Washington.
The new transit stop allows crews to move the location to a place under the 24th Ave. East overpass.
Once the new shared-use trail connects Montlake to the eastside in late fall 2017, crews can then move focus in early 2018 to the Montlake Phase of the SR 520 project, shifting both eastbound and westbound traffic onto the new north approach bridge structure while constructing a new West Approach Bridge South and Montlake lid.
Follow Tim Newcomb on Twitter at @tdnewcomb.