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Ahoy! Boating Season Opening Day Means Increased Delays on 520 Bridge

The Washington Department of Transportation is advising motorist of specific impacts this weekend for Opening Day, and through the summer boating season.

This weekend’s start of boating season is prompting the Washington Department of Transportation to sound the bosun's pipe alerting motorists who drive the State Route 520 Bridge and surrounding streets in Seattle.

First, with the boating season bringing more nautical traffic to Lake Washington and the east navigational channel usually closed for bridge construction, drawspan opening and delays are more frequent in the summer months.

And secondly, although the east navigational channel will be open to boating Thursday, May 2 through Sunday May 5, opening day festivities will result in some road closures in the Montlake area on Saturday, May 4:

  • The State Route 513 Montlake Bridge will be closed to vehicle and foot traffic Saturday from 7 a.m. until 4 p.m. to allow 900 boats to sail through the cut as part of the opening day of boating season.
  • The westbound SR 520 off-ramp to Montlake Boulevard and the left turn lane of the eastbound SR 520 off-ramp to northbound Montlake Boulevard will also be closed to vehicles during that time.

Below is the full WSDOT press release on boating season impacts, which is also available by clicking here.

SEATTLE – Boating season marks the unofficial start to summer in Seattle for motorists and mariners alike. With more nautical traffic, drivers should expect additional delays on both the State Route 520 Bridge and the State Route 513 Montlake Bridge.

On Saturday, May 4, drivers will need to plan ahead and take an alternate route because the Montlake Bridge will close to vehicle and foot traffic from 7 a.m. until 4 p.m. to allow about 900 boats to sail through the cut as part of the opening day of boating season.

In addition to the bridge closure, other ramps will be closed at the same time:

• The westbound SR 520 off-ramp to Montlake Boulevard.

• The left turn lane of the eastbound SR 520 off-ramp to northbound Montlake Boulevard.

Boat traffic will have less of an impact for drivers on the SR 520 floating bridge this weekend as the east navigational channel will be opening to accommodate vessels up to 59 feet tall beginning at 8 a.m. Thursday, May 2. The channel will close as construction on the new SR 520 floating bridge resumes at 11:59 p.m. Sunday, May 5.

Drivers will see frequent openings of the drawspan again this summer due to Coast Guard rules that require the Washington State Department of Transportation to open the SR 520 bridge for boats more than 45 feet tall. Marine openings of the SR 520 Bridge are prohibited between the hours of 6:30 – 10 a.m. and 3 – 7 p.m. Monday through Friday, except on federal holidays excluding Columbus Day.

In addition to electronic highway message signs advising drivers of an SR 520 opening, text and email alerts are also available to provide a two hour notice.

Besides opening weekend of boating season, WSDOT keeps the east and west navigation channels open on Memorial Day weekend, Independence Day, Seafair weekend and Labor Day weekend.

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