Washington state moves forward with replacement of world's longest floating bridge
Tina Grady Barbaccia | August 17, 2011
Washington can move forward with its $3.45 billion State Route (SR) 520 project thanks to federal decision that completes the project’s NEPA process, Federal Highway Administrator Victor Mendez announced on Aug. 4. The environmental decision was the last step in the NEPA environmental approval process for the project, which includes a plan to replace the Gov. Albert D. Rossellini – Evergreen Point Bridge, more commonly known as the SR 520 floating bridge.
“Reaching this important milestone brings Washington closer to improving safety and easing congestion for the thousands who depend on the SR 520 floating bridge every day,” said U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood.
Today’s signing of the record of decision (ROD) completes a comprehensive environmental review process that began in the late 1990’s with discussions of the bridge’s replacement. The existing floating bridge opened to traffic in 1963 and due to years of increases in traffic volume, the bridge, at its capacity, is the site of persistent delays and is structurally deficient.
The project extends from I-5 in Seattle to the east bank of Lake Washington in nearby Medina. In addition to replacing the structurally deficient floating bridge, the project includes widening SR 520 from four lanes to six to accommodate HOV lanes that would span the entire 5.2-mile length of the project, improving transit reliability and overall efficiency of the route.
“This is a win for the community,” said Mendez. “Work on the SR 520 Floating Bridge is creating jobs in the short term and improving mobility in a critical economic center in the long term.”
The Washington State Department of Transportation (WSDOT) is now cleared to begin detailed design and right-of-way acquisition. The new floating bridge will provide a stronger regional connection and better serve the nearly 205,000 daily commuters predicted by 2030.
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