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New 520 and hundreds of other bridges labeled deficient

The 520 bridge under construction.
KUOW Photo/Carolyn Adolph
The 520 bridge under construction.

Drive over the 520 or I-90 floating bridges often? Both have made a new list of bridges that are structurally deficient. It doesn't necessarily mean the bridges are unsafe for travel, but that they need some attention.

A new study by the American Road and Transportation Builders Association lists nearly 400 bridges in Washington as structurally deficient. That includes the 520 bridge (yes, the new and improved version) and other well-traveled highways. "Deficient" means part of the bridge needs to be repaired, not that it's in danger of collapsing.

Steve Peer, a spokesman with the Washington State Department of Transportation, wants to be clear about the new, multi-billion dollar 520 floating bridge: "The bridge is very safe," he says. 

Peer says 520 made the list because after it opened in 2016, inspectors noticed the anchor cables weren't strong enough.

Peer: "Immediately we began to replace those, one at a time, and it just takes a while. Slowly but surely we've replaced almost all of them."

He says the report's data is old, and that the bridge is sufficiently safe now.

As for the other bridges, the state is making progress addressing them.

There's money for about 30 to be repaired, including the spans of I-90 that cross Lake Washington and parts of I-90 near Snoqualmie Pass. Transportation officials list 94 more bridges as a priority for replacement or repairs.

The state estimates it will cost up to $3 billion to address all the bridge repair needs in Washington.