Construction on the new State Route 520 Bridge is now underway, and the Washington State Department of Transportation is advising drivers to use online tools to check for upcoming bridge closures.
During construction, WSDOT says crews will periodically close the bridge for up to 30 minutes to allow tall boats to pass through. Construction barges are currently stationed in the eastern navigation channel, eliminating one main travel route for vessels, according to a department news release.
Here is some additional information from WSDOT:
Now that SR 520 construction barges are stationed within the eastern navigation channel, updated Coast Guard rules require the Washington State Department of Transportation to occasionally close the SR 520 floating bridge to allow taller boats to pass through the bridge’s movable drawspan—a process that can take up to 30 minutes.
Under the new rules, taller vessels must give 12 hours notice if they wish to pass through the floating bridge drawspan on weekdays between 5 a.m. and 9 p.m. Vessel pilots need only give two hours notice to pass through the SR 520 drawspan between 9 p.m. and 5 a.m. on weekdays and anytime on weekends when traffic volumes are typically lower. Previous Coast Guard rules prohibited drawspan openings from 5 a.m. to 9 p.m. on weekdays.
Until now, boaters had a few options besides the movable drawspan. Before construction barges were in place, the SR 520 eastern highrise has accommodated boats up to 64 feet tall. Boaters with vessels less than 45 feet tall—or lowered to meet that height—still can pass beneath the SR 520 45-foot-tall west highrise.
WSDOT says it expects the new rules will be in place until Aug. 15. The department says it will use the following methods to notify drivers of closures:
- Electronic message signs on highways approaching SR 520 will list the scheduled time for the closure, allowing drivers to plan for delays or choose an alternate route.
- On weekdays and when possible after hours and on weekends, updated information will be posted on the WSDOT What’s Happening Now construction page.
- Updated information will be posted on the WSDOT traffic and travel alert web pages.
- Follow WSDOT on Twitter: @wsdot_traffic for Puget Sound traffic.
- Updated information via WSDOT’s 511 information line in advance on weekdays and during a closure at night and on weekends.
In addition to the new periodic closures, a full weekend closure of the 520 bridge is planned for April 27-30, according to WSDOT.