The original plan for the western approach to the new state Route 520 floating bridge called for the westbound exit to Lake Washington Boulevard East to be demolished later this year and for the eastbound entrance (along with the “ramps to nowhere”) to be demolished at the end of construction in 2015. Now that timetable has been revised. The removal of the ramps to the Washington Park Arboretum — neither of which will be replaced — has been delayed.
The Washington State Department of Transportation (WSDOT) has now clarified the ramp situation, noting that the Final Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) for the SR 520 project, issued last June, “contains a construction timeline that shows westbound Lake Washington Boulevard ramps closed to traffic and removed in 2014 and eastbound Lake Washington Boulevard ramps closed and removed in 2015.”
That’s a two-year reprieve. According to WSDOT, “funding and legislative developments since publication of the Final EIS will likely change the schedule for closing and removing the ramps.”
The reason for this is that the Final EIS “assumed full funding of all project elements,” WSDOT reports. However, the state has no funding at present for anything other than the new floating bridge and the Eastside approaches.
“Engrossed House Bill (EHB) 2814 requires that the Legislature authorize tolling on Interstate 90 and/or other funding sufficient to complete construction of the SR 520 program before construction can begin west of the floating bridge and landings work,” said WSDOT spokesperson Jeff Switzer. “The requirements expire June 30, 2014 — this means that we cannot start the next construction phase before July 1, 2014, unless other funding conditions are met. If we cannot meet these funding conditions, it is unlikely that we will be able to close and remove the Lake Washington Boulevard ramps as early as 2014.”
Switzer further noted that WSDOT has applied for a federal loan to cover the costs of completing the SR 520 Bridge Replacement and HOV Project, and if the federal money comes through, the state will “fund the next phase of construction west of the floating bridge, which would likely begin after July 2014, when the requirements of EHB 2814 expire. We will be able to develop an updated timeline for Lake Washington Boulevard ramp closing and subsequent removal if and when we receive the [federal] loan and/or other additional funding for project elements from I-5 to the floating bridge.”
BRYAN TAGAS writes the Madison Park blog (www.madisonparkblogger.com), from which this story was excerpted.