The New State Route 520 Bridge Opens this Weekend

The new bridge is almost complete

By Seattle magazine staff March 14, 2016

An aerial view of a bridge over a body of water.

This article originally appeared in the April 2016 issue of Seattle magazine.

The new State Route 520 bridge—at 7,710 feet, the world’s longest floating bridge—opens this month, and it’s bigger and better than ever. The souped-up replacement is stronger (it can withstand winds as high as 89 miles per hour, versus the old bridge’s original 57 mph and retrofitted 77 mph), built to last more than 75 years, floats on 77 pontoons (the existing bridge has just 33), and will add a 14-foot-wide shared path for pedestrian and cyclists. It took a lot of bridge-building along the way, but here’s hoping for smooth connections.

The 520 Bridge: A brief history

Aug 1963

The existing SR 520 bridge, also known as the Evergreen Point Floating Bridge, opens to traffic financed by a $30 million, 40-year bond, which was expected to be paid off in 2000 via a $.35 toll.

June 1979

Thanks to heavier-than-expected use, the bridge is paid off more than 20 years ahead of schedule, and the tolling booths are removed.

Aug 1988

The bridge is officially named the Governor Albert D. Rosellini Bridge, in honor of the politician who advocated for its construction.

May 2009

Governor Christine Gregoire reinstates tolling on the SR 520 bridge to help pay for the new SR 520 bridge. Variable tolling is introduced based on time of day (currently $0–$5.55).

Aug 2012

The first of the new bridge’s longitudinal pontoons is placed.

Nov 2013

WSDOT is forced to close the bridge due to high winds swaying it some 4–5 feet during a storm. On November 2, motorists abandon about 50 cars in the westbound lane due to safety concerns.

April 2016

The grand opening of the new SR 520 bridge launches with two car-free events: a 5K/10K race on April 2, followed by a 20-mile bike ride on April 3.

Fall 2017

The project to remove the old 520 bridge is expected to be complete.


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