April Grand Opening Celebration Announced for SR 520's New Floating Bridge
SEATTLE, WA The public will have the chance to run, bike or simply stroll across the world's longest floating bridge in April. The Washington State Department of Transportation will host a grand opening celebration to mark the completion of the new State Route 520 floating bridge.
The weekend festivities atop the new, 1.5-mile-long floating highway kicks off Saturday morning, April 2, with a community fun run and walk sponsored by the Virginia Mason Heart Institute. On Sunday, April 3, the 520 Go Long celebration closes with a public bicycle ride from the University of Washington, across the bridge and back, through car-free routes of downtown Seattle, Washington, and back to the university campus.
"I'm encouraging everyone I see to visit our 520 Go Long website and register for the fun run, the bike ride or both," said Julie Meredith, WSDOT Administrator of the SR 520 Bridge Replacement and HOV Program. "We're hoping to get people from all across the region to come to this event. It's going to be a fun weekend for the whole family."
The grand opening celebration will highlight community health and wellness, and include a fun run/walk and bike ride. The improved highway's 14-foot-wide shared-use path, eventually stretching from Redmond, Washington, to Interstate 5, underscores the weekend's emphasis on exercise and good health. Additional public activities and sponsors will be announced in the weeks to come.
"We're excited for this opportunity to sponsor the community fun run and walk across the world's longest floating bridge," said Anne Casey, Administrative Director of the Virginia Mason Heart Institute. "We encourage and support healthy lifestyles. It's thrilling so many people throughout the community can be physically active by using the new bicycle and pedestrian path."
"The new bicycle/pedestrian path in the SR 520 corridor, with its connections to local bike-pedestrian trails, is a tremendous addition to our region," said Elizabeth Kiker, Executive Director of the Cascade Bicycle Club, which is producing the bike ride. "The Emerald City Ride will be a family-friendly bike ride to experience the new 520 floating bridge. We can't wait for thousands of riders to cross the bridge on April 3."
Participants in the fun run/walk or the bicycle ride must register in advance.
Traffic shifts to the new structure
The new SR 520 floating bridge will open to traffic in stages, using two weekend closures in the weeks following the grand opening weekend celebration. Crews will then decommission the old bridge and remove it by floating it out in sections.
When all traffic is shifted, the floating bridge will have two general-purpose lanes and one transit-carpool lane in each direction. Built to withstand stronger windstorms and wave action, the bridge is 132 feet longer than the existing bridge and will have wide shoulders for disabled vehicles.
All major improvements to an expanded, six-lane SR 520 from Medina to I-405 already are complete. Meanwhile, WSDOT contractors are now building a separate, three-lane bridge that will carry westbound traffic from the floating bridge to Seattle's Montlake area. This West Approach Bridge North will extend SR 520's new, regional bicycle-pedestrian path from the eastside to Seattle.
WSDOT is also preparing to build other improvements to SR 520's west side corridor in stages, including a new Portage Bay Bridge, highway lids, and the eastbound half of the west approach bridge.