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WSDOT reveals plans for Eastside 520 renovations | Residents have concerns

The map above shows changes that WSDOT has in mind for SR 520 on the Eastside. - WSDOT Graphic
The map above shows changes that WSDOT has in mind for SR 520 on the Eastside.
— image credit: WSDOT Graphic

A new floating bridge isn't the only change the state has in mind for its pending overhaul of Highway 520 of Highway 520. In fact, it isn't even the first.

The corridor's Eastside segment is scheduled for tweaks in 2010, assuming the state can come up with $800 million in funding by then.

Some residents are worried about how the project might affect their homes, as well as how it would impact safety and traffic on city roads like Bellevue Way Northeast.

The Washington State Department of Transportation's preliminary plans for 520 would:

• Create an inside HOV lane in both directions along the corridor between Medina and State Route 202 in Redmond

• Replace the access ramps off of Bellevue Way Northeast and add left-turn lanes for vehicles using the entrance ramps

• Construct three new highway lids to connect neighborhoods divided by the corridor

• Add a direct-access interchange for transit and HOV at 108th Avenue Northeast

• Expand the Evergreen Point Road Park and Ride

• Build a bicycle/pedestrian path along the north side of 520

Richard Kress worries that reconfiguring the access ramps at Bellevue Way will cause additional congestion on an already busy road. He lives off of 103rd Avenue Northeast, near the intersection of 520 and Bellevue Way.

"It'll be impossible to get out of our street," he said. "It's a nightmare as it is."

WSDOT transportation and operations manager Michael Horntvedt says the level of service on Bellevue Way is projected to remain roughly the same, with perhaps a 2-percent increase in volume.

The only area where congestion is expected to get worse is along Northup Way, where another left-turn lane would be added in the westbound direction to provide additional access to the on-ramp along 108th Avenue Northeast.

Safety is another concern for residents.

Jeff Stone, who lives in the same neighborhood as Kress, says pulling out of his street onto Bellevue Way feels like entering a death trap. Drivers tend to speed as they come off the exit ramp, making the turn off of 103rd Avenue dangerous, he said.

Stone suggested the city should install a traffic light or rumble strips to slow drivers down.

New sound barriers proposed as part of the project present cause for even more concern. The state would have to acquire at least one home in Bellevue to make the walls work, and those types of purchases are rarely easy or welcome.

Kress, meanwhile, is unhappy about a section of the barrier that would run directly in front of his home.

"To have a wall going right in front of your house, that's an irritant," he said.

WSDOT is conducting an environmental review for the Eastside 520 project, and the agency expects to make the results available some time around November.

Visit this site for an informational video on WSDOT's plans for 520 on the Eastside.

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