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State says goodbye to the old 520 floating bridge

A federal agency found the new 520 Bridge to be "structurally deficient." (WSDOT)

There won’t be much time to bid the old 520 floating bridge farewell once the new one opens Monday.

The Washington State Department of Transportation will begin tearing the bridge that has brought so many across Lake Washington since it opened on Aug. 28, 1963.

Related: A tour of the new westbound SR 520 bridge

Both the new and old bridges have been closed this weekend as crews prepared for the official opening of the new bridge. Crews needed both bridges for staging.

Once drivers are enjoying their commute across the lake on the new bridge, the state will start demolishing the concrete roadway and support columns. They will float the old pontoons out of the lake.

Steve Peer with WSDOT says the pontoons could be used for all sorts of things. He says the demolished roadway will be recycled.

The decommissioning of the old bridge is a milestone for more than one reason. KIRO Radio’s Dave Ross points out it is the first floating bridge that that will be taken down on purpose.

“This is the first time we’ve removed a floating bridge in a controlled fashion,” Dave pointed out.

He is referring to the partial sinking of the Hood Canal Bridge in 1979 and the destruction of the I-90 bridge. Those, he says, was deep-sixed by nature.

“Of course, it would be cheaper if they just let a storm take them down,” he added. “This will be nothing compared to the cost of taking the [Seattle] viaduct down … just leave it there and let the earthquake take it.”

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