520’s Seattle-side replacement begins with West Approach Bridge North construction

Screen Shot 2014-10-07 at 9.56.35 PMWABN_Travel_ModelConstruction of West Approach Bridge North, the Seattle-side 520 replacement project that will connect westbound lanes to the new floating bridge, is now digging in on Foster Island and through Montlake.

The project is part of the only half-funded, half-planned westside replacement of 520. CHS wrote here about the other half of the equation including a Montlake lid and a new Portage Bay Bridge last month. The $300 million federally funded westbound section will have have room for three lanes and include a pedestrian and bike path that will eventually connect all the way across Lake Washington.

Here’s an update from WSDOT on the work that will also mean the end of the iconic “Ramps to Nowhere” remnants from scuttled 520 plans past:

Contractor crews for the Washington State Department of Transportation are beginning to move in heavy equipment and remove trees and vegetation, as needed, along a strip of Foster Island in preparation for building the West Approach Bridge North. One of the crews’ first tasks on the island and adjoining waterways is to build a work platform from which they’ll construct the permanent SR 520 approach bridge.

In a nearby staging area along the west edge of the Washington Park Arboretum, work is underway to place field trailers and other construction equipment. Also, at the former site of the Museum of History and Industry just north of SR 520, crews are preparing to demolish the building later this year. The demolition will make way for additional staging operations and, eventually, creation of a water-detention pond where stormwater runoff from the highway will be naturally filtered and treated.

“This is the launch of major construction activity along the highway’s Seattle corridor,” said Julie Meredith, WSDOT administrator for the SR 520 Bridge Replacement and HOV Program. “The new bridge will be able to withstand larger earthquakes and addresses a vulnerable link in the SR 520 corridor.”

This month crews also expect to begin pile installation for the approximately one-mile-long work platform and will begin removal of the R.H. Thomson “Ramps to Nowhere” in the Arboretum.

WSDOT says its being sensitive to the Arboretum’s trees during the Lake Washington shore construction:

Crews will remove trees and vegetation within WSDOT’s right of way on Foster Island as needed to make room for the new West Approach Bridge North and work platform. Most of the trees being removed on the island are nonnative ashes and willows, which will be replaced with native conifers, shrubs and groundcovers.

More than 400 trees and 22,000 shrubs will be planted within the project area when construction is completed in mid-2017. Orange fencing will be placed near protected trees to ensure they are not damaged during construction.

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6 thoughts on “520’s Seattle-side replacement begins with West Approach Bridge North construction

  1. Are they keeping the Foster Island trail open? I noticed they have put up orange material barriers along the trail where they are cutting trees and also by the trail entrance over by the old MOHAI building

  2. Two dumb moves:

    1 – Demolishing the old MOAHI; could have been repurposed and turned into a destination (museum? gallery? other?).

    2 – Demolishing the ramps to nowhere; could have been made into great walking paths/arboretum extensions, much like New York City’s Highline Park.

    Both are typical for Seattle: Tear it down now, regret the decision forever.

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