CHOKEPOINTS

SR-520 drivers won’t be getting a lane back for another year

Mar 14, 2023, 6:01 AM | Updated: 9:16 am

Image: SR 520 bridge construction work continues. Expanded tolling on SR 520 may be coming....

SR 520 bridge construction work continues. Expanded tolling on SR 520 may be coming. (Photo: Chris Sullivan, KIRO Newsradio)

(Photo: Chris Sullivan, KIRO Newsradio)

This is not the news westbound State Route 520 drivers want to hear, they will not be getting their second lane back to Interstate 5 any time soon.

When work to build the new reversible High Occupancy Vehicle (HOV) lane between SR 520 and the I-5 express lanes began last year, the contractor took one of the two lanes of the ramp from westbound 520 to southbound I-5 for a work zone.  It also took one of the express lanes.

SR-520 Montlake Project to hit milestone this weekend

That second on-ramp lane was scheduled to reopen by this month, but it has not returned.

And it’s not going to.

Drivers won’t be getting that lane back for another year. The Washington Department of Transportation has decided to leave it in place until the project is close to completion next year. The contractor says there’s just too much work left to do, and the lane really provides a safe zone to get it done.

The lane that the contractor closed on the I-5 express lanes for the same project won’t reopen until October.

“We’re going to have to keep the lane reductions in place primarily so we can do it for safety reasons,” WSDOT’s Tony Black said. “We don’t want to put workers at risk, and we don’t want to put our drivers or travelers at risk either.”

Delaying the reopening of that ramp lane should keep this project on schedule.

“We certainly do understand the public’s desire to have things get done and get this project over with, and this decision is going to help us stay on schedule,” Black said.

The reversible lane between SR 520 and the express lanes is expected to open in about a year, and Black said it will change the landscape and sight lines along I-5.

“This is going to be a really busy summer for us,” he said. “This summer is going to be some of the biggest visual changes the public will see.”

This reversible lane will start as a transit-only lane, but it will convert to an HOV lane when the entire SR 520 project is done. That’s in about eight and a half years when the extension from Montlake to I-5 over Portage Bay is scheduled to open.

Drivers can expect a busy year of lane closures along this corridor, including at Mercer Street, as the construction progresses.

The Montlake Lid project closures will also continue.

The lid project and this reversible lane project are expected to wrap up at about the same time next year.

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SR-520 drivers won’t be getting a lane back for another year