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Montlake, 520
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Reconnection of Seattle’s Montlake neighborhood begins this weekend

A view of progress on one of the three pier walls that will support a future freeway lid over SR 520 between Montlake Boulevard and 24th Avenue East. (WSDOT/Flickr)

Eastbound State Route 520 will not be available for you over Lake Washington this weekend as workers begin to build the new lid over the freeway. This is the first of four weekend directional closures of 520 between Montlake Boulevard East and 92nd Avenue Northeast in Medina.

This weekend, it’s the eastbound lanes that will close from 11 p.m. Friday to 5 a.m. Monday. Contractors will be installing 114 girders in total over the freeway to complete the base of the new lid. There are three concrete piers that have already been constructed, and the girders will be set between them.

“We call them Pier 1, 2, and 3,” said Steve Peer with the Washington Department of Transportation.  “One is on the south side, two is in the middle, and this weekend we are placing about 29 girders over those two piers. Come Monday morning, drivers will see the beginnings of the new lid over them.”

It just isn’t safe to mix cars with this construction, and that’s why they have to close the lanes.

“One of the reasons we need to completely shut it down is we need to bring these girders in, and these are large girders that come in and cranes pick them up and they’re hoisted into place,” Peer said. “There’s no room for traffic.”

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Next weekend, there will be a westbound directional closure to set the first few dozen girders over that section of SR 520. There will also be directional closures the last weekend of February and the first weekend in March.

Peer said the new lid in Montlake will have a transit center, a bike and pedestrian path, and a bunch of greenspaces. About 60% of the new lid will be trees, shrubs, and grass.

“This community used to be connected until 520 divided it back in the early 1960s,” he said. “This will be a reconnecting, if you will, of the communities north and south of 520.”

Another change that begins on the corridor this weekend is a new flammable cargo restriction. Trucks will no longer be able to carry flammable material across the lake on SR 520 from this Friday until the middle of 2023. Peer said there would be no way to stop a fire during that time.

“We need to build a fire-suppression system,” he said. “We don’t want flammable cargo under this new lid as it’s being built.”

Most flammable cargo uses I-90 anyway, but Peer doesn’t want anyone to be caught off guard. Signs are up, and trucking companies have be notified.

If you want to see the girders going up, WSDOT has installed a camera to watch the lid construction.

And in case you forgot, there is still about a decade of work left to do before the entire corridor is complete. The state still has to build new lanes across Portage Bay to I-5.

Check out more of Chris’ Chokepoints.

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