Crews reopened State Route 520 this morning after successfully completing a busy weekend of inspections and repairs on the floating bridge in preparation for the next storm season.
“We completed a month’s worth of work in just one weekend,” said Archie Allen, Washington State Department of Transportation (WSDOT) bridge superintendent. “The bridge is better prepared for the strong winter wind and waves now. Our work helps keep this vital link open during the storms.”
While SR 520 was closed to traffic for the weekend of maintenance, construction crews working on the Eastside Transit and HOV Project also were busy. Workers carved a nearly 30-foot-deep trench across all lanes to install a fish-passable culvert beneath the highway near 84th Avenue Northeast in Hunts Point. The trench was refilled and repaved in time for the Monday morning commute.
Crews also removed more trees within the future footprint of the highway improvements and installed tolling-rate signs on the east highrise.
More culvert and overpass construction is planned during a weekend closure of the highway Aug. 26-29. This is part of a three-year project to widen the highway for better safety and travel reliability.
In addition to the closure of SR 520 from Interstate 405 to Montlake Boulevard, the Interstate 5 ramps to and from Mercer Street closed all weekend for a city of Seattle project. As expected, weekend traffic was heavier than usual on I-5, I-90 and I-405 as drivers shifted their trips away from the closed highway and ramps to attend regional events. WSDOT anticipated additional congestion, monitored traffic backups and altered the express lane schedules on I-5 and I-90 to help improve traffic.
“Drivers were awesome and adjusted their schedules to avoid congestion,” said Brian Dobbins, construction manager for the SR 520 Eastside Transit and HOV Project. “Thanks to help from drivers, we were able to complete both our bridge maintenance and highway construction at the same time.”
By scheduling weekend-long closures for major construction, the highway stays open for commuters and businesses during the work week.
During the SR 520 weekend closure, maintenance crews inspected drawspan components on the floating bridge, tested and serviced swinging gates and barricades, electrical and hydraulic systems, and repaired damaged guidance tracks and joints on the bridge deck.
The Eastside Transit and HOV Project will widen SR 520 to six lanes from Medina to Bellevue. The project includes rebuilding interchanges, installing fish-passable culverts, and building highway lids and transit stops in the center of the highway. WSDOT awarded the $306 million design-build contract to Eastside Corridor Constructors (ECC), a joint venture of Granite Construction Company and PCL Construction Services.
Complete SR 520 highway construction closures are limited to no more than 20 weekends during the next three years. The completed corridor is scheduled to be open to traffic in December 2013.
More information about the project is online atwww.wsdot.wa.gov/Projects/SR520Bridge/MedinaTo202/default.htm.
-- Information from the Washington State Department of Transportation