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520 bridge
The new SR 520 floating bridge over Lake Washington replaced a span that was more than 50 years old. (WSDOT Photo)

Something about putting up with years of road construction seems to make the time fly when a project is complete and being used on a daily basis. Drivers in Seattle and on Lake Washington’s Eastside might find it hard to believe that it’s already been a year since the new SR 520 floating bridge opened to traffic.

The world’s longest such span, the 1.5-mile-long bridge opened on April 25, 2016, and has since carried about 77,000 cars, trucks and buses per day across the lake, according to a blog post Tuesday from the Washington State Department of Transportation. That adds up to about 30 million trips over the past year — that’s a lot of Microsoft workers and Bellevue shoppers.

Five years of construction went into making the new bridge a reality. And there is still lots of work to be done, especially on the western end where the roadway meets the Montlake neighborhood south of the University of Washington. A new northern approach bridge carrying traffic west is scheduled to open this summer, and with it will come the completion of a bike and pedestrian path across the lake.

Montlake 520
An artist’s rendering of a transportation lid over SR 520 in Seattle’s Montlake neighborhood. (WSDOT Image)

WSDOT further reports that the Montlake Phase of the project will begin in 2018 and include the construction of the southern approach bridge to carry eastbound traffic. A landscaped lid over the highway is expected further improve connections for transit, pedestrians and bicyclists. A timeline doesn’t call for completion of that phase until 2022 or 23.

Beyond all of that, WSDOT says teams are actively planning for the replacement of 520’s Portage Bay Bridge between Montlake and I-5. And a second drawbridge could span the Montlake Cut in coming years.

For a bit more history on the bridge replacement, check out this new short documentary from WSDOT:

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