Bellevue briefed on SR-520 improvements

  • Monday, June 2, 2008 3:30pm
  • News

State Department of Transportation officials Monday gave members of the Bellevue City Council a look at the state’s plan to replace a six-mile stretch of State Route 520, including the Evergreen Point Bridge, by 2018.

Experts say the bridge, which was built more that 40 years ago and now carries about 155,000 people a day, is vulnerable to earthquakes and windstorms. A new floating bridge would be built to withstand strong earthquakes and windstorms up to 95 mph.

The updated replacement effort crafted by state lawmakers fits closely with what Bellevue and six other Eastside cities supported in a joint interest statement in 2006.

Among other things, Bellevue, Redmond, Kirkland, Clyde Hill, Medina, Yarrow Point and Hunts Point called for a six-lane bridge that includes a variety of types, or modes, of transportation. They agreed to work with the state DOT to minimize neighborhood impacts and assist in finding the funding needed for bridge and corridor improvements.

Bellevue’s emphasis on a “multi-modal” transportation system also includes support for the extension of a light rail system through Bellevue, providing alternatives to driving alone, a downtown circulator/shuttle bus, and a bus rapid transit route provided by Metro, called RapidRide, connecting downtown Bellevue to downtown Redmond. Bellevue also is working with the state DOT on road projects to relieve congestion on I-405.

The state DOT officials briefed the Council on what the agency is doing to comply with legislation passed in 2007 and earlier this year.

The state’s plan calls for a six-lane bridge, with four lanes dedicated to general purpose traffic and two lanes for transit and high-occupancy vehicles, early construction of traffic improvements from Lake Washington’s eastern shoreline to 108th Avenue Northeast in Bellevue, and a committee to study how to mitigate the impacts of tolling, which could come as early as mid-2009.

A new, larger bridge with HOV lanes would move more people across the lake, provide a bicycle/pedestrian path and include pontoons that could accommodate high-capacity transit in the future. The entire project area begins at I-5 in Seattle and extends to 108th Avenue Northeast in Bellevue, just west of I-405.

Council members were told the total cost for the project ranges from $3.41 to $5.72 billion, depending on what options west of Lake Washington are selected. Three options are being considered for the approach in Seattle, from I-5 to the bridge, ranging in price from $1.63 to $3.85 billion. The cost to build a new floating bridge and to improve the Eastside approach is $1.77 to $1.87 billion.

According to state transportation officials, the timetable for SR 520 work calls for a final environmental impact statement to be finished in 2009, construction to start in 2012, a new bridge open to drivers in 2014 and project completion in 2018.

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