George V. Reilly

New 520 Floating Bridge

New 520 Floating Bridge

I moved to Seattle in 1992 and spent the next 13 years commuting to the Eastside, largely across the SR-520 Floating Bridge. Ten of those years were at Microsoft; the rest, elsewhere in Redmond and Bothell. It was im­me­di­ate­ly obvious that 520 needed more capacity. Only now, 24 years later, are we getting that extra capacity: a new bridge that will replace the old, worn-out bridge.

The old bridge has only two lanes in either direction and there’s no shoulder. If anything happens, like a flat tire or a stalled car, one lane im­me­di­ate­ly grinds to a halt. The second lane promptly jams up as everyone merges into it. The oncoming traffic all slows down as they try to figure out what’s going on.

Even when there were no traffic jams on the bridge, there was often one ap­proach­ing it, especially westbound where three lanes contracted to two. The last mile or two could be painfully slow.

Two days before I got married in 2000, I was heading west at rush hour. Traffic was inching along. There was a car pulled on the shoulder (it’s only the bridge that lacks shoulders) with a state trooper walking around it with a clipboard. I inched past. Boom! The guy behind me was so busy rub­ber­neck­ing at the cop that he hit me at 5mph. We pulled over and the cop wrote him a ticket for causing an accident. I had a mild case of whiplash for my wedding.

It took decades of NIMBYism and stalling before the region finally got its shit together and built the new bridge. The bridge is open all weekend for a party allowing the public to walk and run over it. We plan to go.

blog comments powered by Disqus
Acne » « Review: The Mercy of the Night