CHOKEPOINTS

Eastsiders say new floating 520 bridge is too loud

Jun 23, 2016, 3:01 PM | Updated: 4:20 pm

520, bridge, noise, 520 bridge...

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

(WSDOT)

When you stand near the lakeside homes in Medina, Yarrow Point, Clyde Hill or Hunts Point, it’s hard to imagine that neighbors have anything to complain about, but some residents are highly irritated with a “thunk” that’s been haunting the area.

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The thunk sound has been connected to the new 520 floating bridge. The bridge has been open for about two months, but the honeymoon is definitely over for people living on the Eastside.

Since April, more than 200 people have filed noise complaints over the sound of cars rolling over the new 520 bridge expansion joints. It’s a ka-thunk, zzzzz, thunk-thunk noise, depending on who you ask.

Some Eastside communities claim the 520 bridge noise is unbearable and they want the state to fix it. The Washington State Department of Transportation says they’ve done everything by the book, but will continue to study the noise.

“There’s people who literally didn’t hear the old 520 at all,” said Medina City Manager Michael Sauerwein. “Now they can stand in their living room and can hear the ‘ka-thunk-ka-thunk’ noise. They feel like they can’t even open the windows in their bedrooms without it keeping them awake at night.”

Julie Meredith, the administrator of the 520 Bridge Project, adds that there is more construction work to be done, but so far the new 520 bridge has met the sound requirements for noise reduction.

“The combination of enclosing the expansion joints below, noise walls and new pavement, has decreased the noise from what we had before (the old 520 bridge) and helped us meet the federal noise abatement criteria,” Meredith said.

This really seems like round one of an ongoing debate, but Medina residents don’t seem to be backing down.

“Our citizens will be contacting their representatives at the state level to encourage Washington State Department of Transportation to help us find a solution to the problem,” Sauerwein said.

What if the thunk noise simply turns out to be the new normal for Eastside residents?

“This is not just an annoyance, this is significantly impacting the quality of life of a number of citizens that live in this area,” Sauerwein said.

At this point, the new 520 bridge is almost finished. So what’s next? Will the city of Medina eventually sue the state over the noise? Emails to Sauerwein’s office about a potential lawsuit went unanswered.

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