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New exit from 520 bridge opens to the public

Drivers who exit the 520 bridge at Montlake have a new exit.

Westbound State Route 520 drivers who exit at Montlake need to be prepared to do so much earlier on the new span, which connects the floating bridge to Montlake.

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The exit is about a mile back from where you would expect it.

“You’ll be much higher than you were before, in fact, you won’t be able to see the exiting cars, you’ll just be going westbound on this new structure for about a mile and then you’ll still have the option of going to East Lake Washington Boulevard or Montlake,” said Washington State Department of Transportation spokesperson Steve Peer.

If you miss this new exit, you will have to detour all the way to Roanoke or I-5.

“You will have to get off at Roanoke and turn around, luckily there won’t be any new tolls, but it’s going to be a pain and you don’t want to do that,” Peer said.

This configuration will last about a month or so before the westbound span opens to all westbound traffic. That will make three lanes between I-405 and Montlake in that direction, but it won’t last long.  That new span will go back down to two lanes in the westbound direction in about a year. That’s when the eastbound lanes will share that new span until the new eastbound span is complete. That should take four or five years.

And we’re just getting going on the 520 construction.

“It could be a decade,” Peer said of how long we still have before this 520 project is complete. “A lot of people, when we opened the floating bridge, said, ‘Oh, 520 is done,’ and really we’re just beginning.”

There is a laundry list of items left to finish before WSDOT puts a bow on 520. The entire Montlake interchange is going to be redone, including a lid over the roadway and a new pedestrian path connecting to the arboretum. The state still needs to build new bridges over Portage Bay to connect Montlake to I-5. That will finally extend three lanes all the way from I-405 to I-5, which will also include a new lid at Roanoke.

The final piece will be a new Montlake drawbridge over the cut. It will be built next to the existing one, and each span will handle one direction of traffic.

Tell Chris about a Chokepoint or ask a traffic question @kirortraffic via Twitter.

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