New Bridges and Roads Task Force

King County Executive Dow Constantine and Councilmember Kathy Lambert have formed a new  task force to look at sustainable funding solutions for deteriorating roads and bridges in unincorporated King County.

Tanaguchi and Lambert at the first meeting of the new Bridges and Roads Task Force.

King County Transportation Director Harold Taniguchi and King County Councilmember Kathy Lambert at the first meeting of the new Bridges and Roads Task Force.

Nearly three decades of annexations, declines in gas tax revenues, and the effects of voter initiatives have led to chronic underfunding of county roads across the state.

Safety is the paramount issue in the creation of the task force.

The Bridges and Roads Task Force held its first meeting today and will meet monthly through January 2016 at the Mercer Island Community Center.

The Task Force will provide opportunities to connect communities, build partnerships, and encourage public stewardship, as well as build a constituency and momentum in support of regional solutions.

Members include residents of the unincorporated areas, elected officials, representatives from agriculture and recreation organizations, road experts, and public policy leaders, including PSRC’s Josh Brown.

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Splash! Last 520 bridge pontoons to float tomorrow

Pontoon construction for the new highway 520 floating bridge is now complete.

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State and local officials celebrate the completion of construction of all 77 pontoons for the 520 bridge in Aberdeen today. (WSDOT)

The last three football-field-size structures will float out into Grays Harbor early tomorrow morning.

The state department of transportation reports that all 77 pontoons for the new floating bridge will soon be on Lake Washington.

The new floating bridge is expected to be open to traffic in the Spring of 2016.

State leaders are working on funding to complete the west end of highway 520 to connect the new floating bridge to I-5.

A transportation package that advanced out of the state Senate last week includes $1.57 billion to replace the existing seismically challenged structure with a new bridge and more.

The state House is expected to take up the transportation package the week of March 23rd.

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New 520 bridge pontoons afloat

More pontoons are a step closer from Aberdeen to Lake Washington to float a new 520 bridge.

520 Pontoon

The latest pontoons for the new 520 bridge were floated into Grays Harbor today.

The six pontoons just floated out will be stored and inspected in Grays Harbor before making the trek from the Coast through the Lake Washington Ship Canal.

520 Program Manager Julie Meredith reports:

“As of today, 66 of the 77 pontoons needed for the new bridge have been built. Of these, there are now 57 pontoons currently located on Lake Washington, where crews are busy assembling the new bridge. You can find photos of today’s float-out on our Flickr page and video on YouTube.”

The state has a webpage that keeps track of pontoons and assembly of the new bridge.

The floating portion of the bridge is expected to be open to traffic in spring of 2016.

Recently the state began work on the West Approach to Montlake Boulevard.  That section is expected to carry traffic in time for the start of classes at the University of Washington in 2017.

Last year the state legislature could not agree on new funding to pay for the final leg of the bridge – connection to Interstate 5.

It is uncertain when state leaders will revive efforts to reach agreement on raising the estimated $1.3 billion needed to complete the project.

 


New South Park Bridge to open

The South Park community is having a grand opening celebration for the new South Park Bridge on Sunday, June 29.

Grand celebration for the new South Park Bridge is on Sunday. (Photo: King County)

Party for the new South Park Bridge is on Sunday. (Photo: King County)

In 2010, PSRC approved $15 million in funding for the bridge, which helped the county secure funding from additional federal grants to complete the replacement project.

PSRC began funding efforts to replace the South Park Bridge in 1999 and provided additional funds in 2002, 2006, and 2009 (over $9 million). The bridge serves two regionally designated  Manufacturing and Industrial Centers which together support roughly 80,000 jobs.

Maintaining and preserving the region’s transportation infrastructure is the highest priority in the region’s Transportation 2040 plan. This includes replacing key vulnerable structures.

The new bridge is expected to carry 20,000 vehicles and nearly 3,000 heavy-duty trucks each day. It will also carry an estimated 10 million tons of freight each year, including aerospace parts to local Boeing facilities.

The event will begin at noon. The official dedication ceremony will take place at 3 p.m. Festivities will include a parade across the bridge and a street party featuring music and other performances, as well as food and drink vendors. Participants will be able to walk across the bridge and tour its south tower.

More details about the bridge opening and celebration are available here. The bridge will officially open to vehicle traffic on Monday, June 29.

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More 520 Bridge Pontoons Headed to Seattle

A new batch of pontoons for the SR 520 floating bridge are on their way from Aberdeen to Seattle this month.

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A pontoon on its way into Grays Harbor.

One pontoon left Grays Harbor on Monday and is expected to arrive at the Hiram M. Chittenden Locks on or around Thursday, October 17.

Another pontoon left Grays Harbor on Wednesday, October 16, and is expected make it to the Locks on Saturday, October 19. Two more pontoons are set to be towed from Grays Harbor before the end of October.

Pontoons for the new floating bridge are being constructed in Aberdeen and Tacoma. When pontoon construction is complete and they are ready for assembly, they are towed to Lake Washington.

WSDOT has a website showing pontoon movements and a map showing good viewing spots of the pontoons as they are towed through from Puget Sound to Lake Washington, plus photos of pontoon action and bridge construction.

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East Link Can Use I-90

Washington’s Supreme Court has ruled that Sound Transit can lease the Interstate 90 floating bridge HOV lanes for light rail.

East Link will run on I-90.

East Link will use I-90 to connect Seattle, Mercer Island, Bellevue, and Redmond and is scheduled to open in 2023.

The 7-2 ruling found that Sound Transit’s reimbursement to the Washington’s State Department of Transportation for the use of the lanes was the key to the legality of the transaction.

The appellants had argued that use of property purchased by the state motor vehicle fund for transit purposes was in violation of the state Constitution. The court found that the Constitution does not prohibit transferring assets, if  the fund received adequate compensation in return, which Sound Transit is providing for East Link.

 

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Skagit River Bridge Reopens

The state department of transportation reopened the I-5 Skagit River Bridge this morning, less than a month after a portion of the bridge collapsed into the Skagit River.

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The I-5 Skagit River Bridge opened to traffic today. A permanent fix will be installed by October 1. (WSDOT photo)

For updates on the project, check out WSDOT’s Skagit River Bridge page.

“Roughly 99 percent of the car and truck traffic will be able to cross the I-5 bridge again,” said WSDOT Secretary Lynn Peterson. “This will dramatically reduce the congestion through Mount Vernon and Burlington, and hopefully bring some much-needed normalcy back to our communities.”

The speed limit will be reduced from 60 to 40 mph between the College Way and State Route 20 interchanges, a distance of roughly a half-mile on each side of the bridge. All oversized or overweight trucks must exit and use the current detour route.

WSDOT has awarded a $6.87 million contract to permanently fix the bridge. A federal emergency grant will fund the work, which is expected to start this week and be complete by October 1.

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