Getting Some Closure

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WSDOT is planning to close SR 520 from June 17th to June 20th for major construction – goals of the project are mixed in terms of sustainability

The 520 bridge that floats on Lake Washington bottlenecks on an average evening, barely able to handle the rush-hour traffic commuters from Seattle to Bellevue (and versa) subject it to. 

Posted by Megan RisleyJune 17, 2011

It’s something of a wonder that it doesn’t collapse under the weight of some 165,000 cars, its average summer-weekend load.  And now, the Washington State Department of Transportation (WSDOT) is going to close it – this weekend, starting today (Friday, June 17th) at 11 p.m..  It won’t be reopened until 5 a.m. Monday the 20th, making this one of the biggest closures this construction season.  Needless to say, drivers are strongly encouraged to take alternative routes this weekend as traffic will be even more maddening than usual.

Aside from even heavier traffic, another result of this massive closure will be the first step towards widening the highway across the lake (which is supposed to address the bottleneck issue described above): the removal of the pedestrian overpass.  Other time-sensitive work is listed as a goal of the project on WSDOT’s main webpage, but the focus point seems to be to actually create more road going across this beautiful lake.

Not all is pavement and road space, though.  WSDOT also plans to install fish passage culverts to improve habitat for the many fishes that make their home in, around, and underneath the looming concrete of the bridge.  This is nothing to brush off as fish populations continue struggle in increasingly polluted waterways throughout the country. 

To be sure, one of Feet First’s goals is sustainability, and inherent to this is improving traffic.  There are, it seems, better ways to go about this, though, like taking more cars off the road and encouraging people to walk more.  And it’s not that WSDOT isn’t committed to a healthy planet – they are taking steps to help the fish! Hopefully in the coming phases of this project (the next closure will be on the 4th of July weekend) will include plans for pedestrian use and safety.

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