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520 Drawspan Shuts: Traffic Irritant Fades Into History

The 520 bridge under construction.
KUOW Photo/Carolyn Adolph
Two construction workers wait to move a deck panel into position. The panel is one of hundreds that will make the road surface of the new 520 bridge.


Highway 520 no longer opens and closes for boat traffic. Today crews begin construction on a section of the new bridge that will block the opening in the old one. Two concrete pontoons will be moved into position today.

Dave Becher is engineering manager for the new 520 bridge. He says this is a milestone.

Becher: “We’re more than halfway across the lake. When we put in the two pontoons we’ll actually have 14 of the 23 pontoons in place out on the lake. We’re on schedule to open in April 2016 for traffic.”

The 520 drawspan opened hundreds of times over the bridge’s half century. Each time it inconvenienced drivers who had to wait, change their plans, or find another way across Lake Washington.

Washington’s highway department says boaters have known this day was coming for years. Some may be able to use a navigation channel on the east side of the bridge.

Eventually, boats will need to be less than 70 feet tall to sail under highways 520 and I-90.