The SR 520 project giveth and taketh away in Montlake
Construction is about to start again on the SR 520 project at Montlake, and that means drivers are going to have to get used to another lane change. You’ve got some time to prepare for this one, but it is never too early to start talking about an upcoming traffic change.
The Montlake Phase of the 520 project is about to begin with some preliminary work next month — soil testing, drainage locations, finding utilities. Before the start of the summer, contractors will start moving dirt and building a temporary ramp from Lake Washington Boulevard to eastbound 520.
“We have a lot still to do,” said Steve Peer with the Washington Department of Transportation. “We have about a decade of work ahead of us.”
Up first: building the eastbound connection from Montlake to the floating bridge, and that’s where the big change comes this fall.
Contractors need to take down the existing eastbound connection from Montlake to the floating section of the bridge, the part that goes through Foster Island. The westbound connection was built first. You’re driving on that today. Now, it’s the eastbound’s turn.
“Before there can be gain, there’s going to be some pain,” Peer said. “That pain will be to shift traffic eastbound onto the existing westbound lanes.”
If you can remember back a few years, we made this switch, in reverse, while the westbound connection was being built. The result: westbound drivers are going to lose a lane.
“Right now, between the floating bridge and Montlake, there are three westbound lanes,” Peer said. “Once this shift happens, there will be two.”
It will remain in this configuration for up to five years.
There are several other parts of this phase, which include getting rid of the ramp to eastbound 520 through the arboretum, building an entirely new Montlake interchange, which will include a lid. The lid will be a grassy area over the freeway with direct transit access ramps. A new bicycle and pedestrian bridge will also be built across 520, connecting the arboretum and east Montlake Park. This phase of the project will take four or five years to complete. Then it will be on to the rest of the west, rebuilding the freeway from Montlake to I-5.
The state will also be building a second bridge over the Montlake Cut to double the capacity on Montlake Boulevard.
There is a lot left to do.