520 Bridge Replacement

Big mistakes made on the design and construction of pontoons for the new 520 floating bridge could lead to tougher reporting requirements for the Washington state Department of Transportation.

Lawmakers want more transparency and accountability when it comes to costly mistakes. Repairs to cracks in the new 520 pontoons, for example, are expected to cost tens of millions of dollars.

Bellamy Pailthorp / KPLU News

You may have heard about some issues with the large concrete pontoons being built for the new 520 bridge across Lake Washington. Several of them sprung leaks and cracks after the cement set in Aberdeen.

But the state Department of Transportation says drivers don’t need to worry; the situation is under control.

Click the "play" icon below to see video of State Construction Engineer Jeff Carpenter describing how pontoon cracks are being patched to ensure they will last 75 years, as stipulated in the design plan:

Courtesy of Seattle Chapter of the American Institute of Architects

A design for parks and gardens on the South Park neighborhood's waterfront won the international competition to create a use for the old 520 floating bridge pontoons, according to the competition's Facebook page. The "Food Bridge" would be set afloat along the Duwamish River.

WSDOT image

Even as its construction is well underway, design plans for the new 520 bridge across Lake Washington continue to spark controversy.

A federal judge will hear oral arguments tomorrow in a lawsuit against the replacement project by the State Department of Transportation and the Federal Highway Administration.

WSDOT photo / Flickr

Tolling rates are going up on the 520 bridge this Sunday, in the first of four annual rate hikes. The 2.5%  increase will add about an extra dime to peak fees. It comes 6 months after tolling began on the bridge between Seattle and the east side.

The Washington Transportation Department says more cracks have been found in pontoons under construction in Aberdeen for the new Highway 520 floating bridge on Lake Washington at Seattle.

Photo by Bellamy Pailthorp / KPLU News

Washington State is the floating bridge capital of the world. We have four of the most famous ones, including the longest: State Route 520, which is about to be replaced.

What holds them all up? Giant floats made of concrete, called pontoons. The first and largest of them are being manufactured in Grays Harbor, near Aberdeen.

Associated Press

On the first day of the post-holiday commute, Washington transportation officials say traffic is down significantly on the 520 bridge.

They say about 37 percent fewer drivers than normal crossed the 520 bridge between 6 and 7 a.m. this morning.

Bellamy Pailthorp photo / KPLU News

Tomorrow (Thursday, 12-29-11), electronic tolls will kick in on the 520 bridge across lake Washington.

A series of technical glitches caused multiple past delays.  But now, the reader boards are going live and billing drivers on the most popular route between Seattle and the east side.

There are many creative ways to get around the tolls, but you’re bound to have to pay, sooner or later.

Bellamy Pailthorp / KPLU News

Tolling on the 520 Bridge will start at 5 am on December 29th.

That’s the word from the state Department of Transportation, after multiple glitches that have delayed the system till now.

WSDOT photo

Get ready to pay if you drive on the floating bridge across Lake Washington. The state Department of Transportation has announced the much-delayed tolls on the 520 bridge will start in December.

Tolling on the bridge was originally set to begin this spring, then that was bumped to this summer. Now, the state says the all-electronic system will be up and running four months from now. 

The new 520 bridge across Lake Washington got a big green light yesterday, as federal officials approved the state’s plan to put in a six-lane replacement.

WSDOT

People who drive over the State Route 520 floating bridge will likely have a few more months before tolls kick in. The latest estimate of when charges would begin is now August, but the Washington State Department of Transportation won't commit to a date.

The new system has faced a string of delays. It was originally scheduled to be up and running in April. Then it was pushed back to June. Then late July. 

Associated Press

A $4.6 billion project to replace the Highway 520 floating bridge and improve the corridor between Seattle and Bellevue is moving ahead.

The Washington Transportation Department released the final environmental impact statement Thursday for a six-lane bridge to replace the four-lane bridge on Lake Washington.

The Seattle Daily Journal of Commerce reports the Federal Highway Administration is expected to approve the project next month. Construction would begin next year and the bridge should be completed by 2015, although the whole project may take until 2018.

urbanvillages.com

Unless a lawsuit derails the process, a new 520 bridge will soon be built across Lake Washington. 

A company in Aberdeen is already constructing the huge pontoons that will keep the new, 6-lane structure afloat.

And the state is widening the highway on the east side of the lake. 

But exactly what the project will look like on the Seattle side is still being worked out.

Seattle's Board of Park Commissioners will get a briefing on impacts to the Washington Park Arboretum tomorrow night (Thursday).

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