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Work on 'Bellevue Braids' highway project begins this year
Construction is under way on the state's "Bellevue Braids" project, but the work motorists see today is only a hint of things to come.
The gist of the plan is to create a new system of highway ramps that will carry traffic directly between downtown Bellevue and SR-520 without using Interstate 405.
All work on the project is scheduled to be complete by summer 2012.
The work under way today is relatively minor, and consists of removing an existing noise wall and a swath of trees along the east side of I-405 to make room for new ramps.
Crews have also begun work on building a wider bridge at NE 12th Street. The new span will include a multi-use trail that connects with the Bel-Red corridor once the city builds NE 15th Street through the area.
WSDOT will begin as early as this fall constructing an entrance ramp that carries traffic directly from NE 10th Street to 520 while giving drivers the option of bypassing 124th Ave. NE once they reach the highway.
The state hopes to eventually fund and build an SR-520 exit ramp that would bring motorists to downtown Bellevue at NE 10th Street.
Crews are scheduled to begin construction of a new ramp from NE Eighth Street to northbound I-405 this fall or summer.
Work will also begin this summer on a new ramp to I-405 that leap frogs the new ramp from NE 10th Street to SR-520. A new ramp carrying traffic from I-405 to SR-520, starting just north of NE 12th Street, is due for construction at the same time.
"We want traffic to sort out on the city streets rather than the freeways," said WSDOT deputy project director Denise Cieri.
The state will eventually replace the portions of noise wall that crews have torn down along I-405.
Planners expect the Bellevue Braids project to reduce congestion on the ramp leading from northbound I-405 to eastbound 520.
"That weave has the highest volume of congestion along the whole 405 corridor," Cieri said.
The project will also reduce congestion on eastbound 520 near the 124th Ave. NE off-ramp, according to planners.
The Bellevue Braids plan is expected to cost $107.5 million, including design and construction.
Gas-tax revenue will pay for most of the project, but the federal government provided $30 million in stimulus funding to speed construction.