Eastside SR 520 work to begin next year

The wait is almost over. Construction on the Eastside portion of State Route 520 will begin early next year.

State Department of Transportation officials (WSDOT) gave the Bellevue City Council a progress report Monday on the highway, one of two east-west roadways across Lake Washington and a major commuter route for workers residing on both sides. Bellevue has played a key role in seeking political support for the project, as well as assisting WSDOT with planning and engineering work.

“This project has been a long time coming, and our thanks go to Gov. Gregoire, our state legislators and others who have been instrumental in supporting the legislation needed to get this project underway in 2011,” Bellevue Mayor Don Davidson said. “This project is essential not only for public safety reasons, but for the continued economic success of our region.”

The SR 520 project calls for the replacement of the aging Evergreen Point Bridge and the Portage Bay Bridge, both of which were built in the 1960s without the benefit of today’s design standards. Both are considered vulnerable to windstorms and earthquakes. The project also calls for major highway improvements along the 520 corridor.

The council is particularly interested in the portion of the highway that runs through Medina and Bellevue. Planned improvements include three lids over the freeway, a new bridge at Bellevue Way, an enhanced regional bike trail, noise walls and fish passage improvements.

Among the planned high-occupancy vehicle changes will be two transit stops located under the lids in the center of the freeway, an HOV “direct access” ramp on and off the westbound lanes of the highway at 108th Avenue Northeast, and relocating the HOV lanes east of 108th Avenue Northeast from the outside of the highway to the middle.

State legislation approved in March cleared the way for SR 520 work on the Eastside to begin. Construction on the Medina to SR 202 segment in Redmond is scheduled to begin in early 2011 and wrap up in 2014.

The work from I-5 to the eastern shore of Lake Washington in Medina includes replacing the floating bridge and replacing the landings, interchanges and roadway.

The total budget for the SR 520 projects is $4.35 billion, part of which will be paid through tolls on the new floating bridge, scheduled to begin in spring 2011. Prices will vary by the time of day and type of vehicle, but have not yet been determined.

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