We see continual construction along the SR 520, we know WSDOT is building a new floating bridge, we’ve heard bits and pieces but when will it be open and what benefits will we see for bicyclists? And when will I be able to bike across SR 520? I ask myself this each time I carpool across the bridge.
So here at Choose Your Way Bellevue, I decided to dig down and find out when we would see bicycle and pedestrian connections from Seattle to Redmond (via Bellevue). Here are my findings all in one place, including some of the highlights that have taken place and what we can look forward to. Let’s take a journey from Seattle to the Eastside.
The SR 520 HOV Bridge Replacement and HOV Program project is broken down into three segments:
Image courtesy of WSDOT
A brief timeline of the overall project:
2011: Began construction of the Eastside Transit and HOV Project
2012: Began construction of floating bridge
2014: Began construction of the West Approach Bridge North (WABN)
2015: Eastside Transit and HOV Project nears completion
2016: Open new floating bridge to traffic
2017: Open new WABN
The I-5 to Lake Washington segment remains primarily unfunded; however, the WABN, which is the westbound portion from the floating bridge to Montlake, is currently under construction. This piece is critical, as it includes pedestrian and bicycle connections from Montlake to the Floating Bridge and Landings project (and thus the other side of the lake). This is slated to open to drivers and cyclists in summer 2017. A lot of design work has been done on the remainder of the Montlake side and it is still awaiting the remaining $1.57 billion unfunded need.
The Floating Bridge and Landings project includes:
- Two general-purpose lanes and one transit/HOV lane in each direction.
- Wider, safer shoulders that will allow vehicles to pull over in the case of a breakdown.
- A 14-foot-wide bicycle and pedestrian path on the north side of the bridge.
- Ability to accommodate future light rail if the region chooses to fund it in the future.
- A safer structure that is resistant to windstorms up to 89 mph.
While this segment is slated to be completed in spring of 2016, only when the WABN opens in summer 2017 will we have a pedestrian/bicycle connection from 108th Ave NE to Montlake, University District and Seattle.
The Eastside Transit and HOV projecthas already seen many milestones and is nearing completion with a separated pedestrian/bicycle path along the north side of SR 520 that is already open to the public. It weaves through tunnels and spits you out just on the east side of Bellevue Way. At this juncture you must ride on a shared use path to 108th Ave NE. See these photos uploaded by a bicyclist of some of the access points under construction back in October 2014.
Cyclist on 520 trail
Photo credit: Kurt DeVries
According to WSDOT, the Eastside Transit and HOV Project will complete and improve the 8.8-mile HOV system from Evergreen Point Road to the SR 202 interchange. The improved six-lane corridor includes two general-purpose lanes and one transit/HOV lane in each direction. The new inside HOV lanes west of 108th Avenue Northeast (which opened in 2014) align with center-running HOV lanes, and connect transit with new median transit stations. The existing outside HOV lanes east of I-405 will remain in place until traffic patterns and transportation planning efforts show a change is needed.
Other notable improvements include:
- Regional bicycle and pedestrian path.
- Direct-access ramp to 108th Avenue NE for 3+ carpools, vanpools and transit.
- Wider, safer shoulders.
- A transit/HOV lane through the entire Eastside corridor.
- Improvement of the Evergreen Point Road Park and Ride.
Median transit stops at Evergreen Point Road and 92nd Avenue NE.
Northup Way Improvements
There is the remaining regional system gap between the pedestrian and bicycle improvements that the Eastside Transit and HOV Project has built up to 108th Ave NE and the 520 Trail to Redmond that can be accessed off NE 24th street just west of 124th Avenue NE. However, according to the City of Bellevue’s Northup Way Corridor Improvements project page, the City of Bellevue and WSDOT are engaged in a partnership to develop the non-motorized improvements that were envisioned in Bellevue’s 2008 Northup Way Corridor Study. This project will build bike lanes and sidewalks on both sides of Northup Way between 108th Ave /NE 33rd Place and NE 24th Street which will effectively provide an interim regional use facility for the missing link.
The gaps in the bicycle system along NE 24th Street between Northup Way and the existing 520 Trail will be completed in conjunction with modifications to the SR 520 retailing walls just below NE 24th Street as part of WSDOT’s improvements to the interchange at SR 520 and 124th Avenue NE. WSDOT also plans to ultimately build a dedicated off street permanent regional trail connection; however, that work is tied to implementation of the Master Plan for the I-405/SR 520 interchange.
Map courtesy of the City of Bellevue
Other features include a pedestrian and bicycle bridge over the Burlington Northern Santa Fe (BNSF) railway, planter strips, street lighting, and two pedestrian midblock crossings at key locations.
The project will:
- Improve non-motorized and vehicular access to and from nearby commercial uses, neighborhoods, offices, transit facilities and other services in the area.
- Enhance recently completed or planned regional transportation facilities, including the SR 520 Eastside Transit and HOV Project, the SR 520 Regional Trail and the Lake Washington Loop Trail.
- Enhance improvements along 116th Avenue Northeast leading to Kirkland.
- Addresses vehicular safety issues.
Project completion is anticipated for early 2017. More information is at The City of Bellevue’s Northup Way Corridor Improvements project page.
To recap, here are some approximate dates to note for bicycle enthusiasts:
Mid-2015: Probable start of construction for the Northup Way bicycle improvements
Spring 2016: Floating bridge opens to drivers (two general purpose lanes in each direction, one HOV lane in each direction)
Summer 2017: WABN opens to bicyclists and drivers and Northup Way improvements to be completed in conjunction for one continuous, much safer bicycle ride from Montlake to Redmond.
Choose Your Way Bellevue staff