Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Romancing the 520

A midnight stroll to Medina

The major unresolved design issue related to the SR-520 project has to do with the new bridge over Portage Bay, a controversial subject which has received major media coverage and the attention of the new neighboring blog, Montlaker.  Those of us in Madison Park are probably more interested, however, in the design for the new floating bridge, additional details of which were unveiled in late March.

Although we covered the fact that the project planners had finally provided the public with graphics of the new bridge as seen from the water (aka "elevations"), until now we haven't focused on the other elements of the bridge's design. The romantic night scene above prominently displays one of the previously undisclosed features, a lighted sentinel.  There will be four of these ornamental sentinels on the bridge, two each at the west and east approaches. This is what they'll look like in the daytime:

And this is the aerial view showing the sentinels on the west side of the bridge (Madison Park is to the right):

Their purpose, apparently, is to provide some visual interest to the bridge and break up the monotony of what some design critics have been calling that new "Viaduct across the Lake." This is a view of a sentinel as seen from above:

Next to the sentinel is one of five public viewpoints that will occur along the pedestrian/bike path at the side of the bridge.  That big mass of concrete to the right of the sentinel in this graphic is one of the  bridge's imposing pontoons.

This is the view of one of these jut-out viewpoint features (aka belvederes) from bridge level (note that the pedestrian/bike pathway is on the North side of the new bridge):

The particular belvedere in the graphic above is on the low-rise section of the floating bridge, shown below as it would look to someone standing on the pontoon:

Belvedere just happens to be Italian for beautiful view, in keeping with WSDOT's romanticizing of our new floating bridge.

[Thanks to the Washington State Department of Transportation for providing the graphics used in this posting. Other bridge graphics are available here. The lower photo shows the east approach at night from the water.]


  1. Though it's no Sunshine Skyway (over Tampa Bay's entrance) or the Golden Gate Bridge (both are suspension bridges, and the planned 520 is not), I like the new design aspects; I was afraid there wouldn't be anything special about it. I am concerned and curious what the state is or will be doing about the bridge being used for suicides. Though it's not of the height of the U.S. 99 George Washington bridge over Fremont/Queen Anne, there are a lot of distressed folks in our area who might attempt to jump off of it. I hope not.

  2. Don't be concerned. GW Bridge is over 150 feet tall. This will be 20 feet tall (seven feet taller than it is now) for the floating span and approaches will be no taller than they are now, since they tie in with existing highways on both ends. People that jump off the abandoned ramps in the Arboretum for fun in the summertime are jumping from higher.

    I am excited about the prospect of walking from Madison Park across the bridge and back. It will open up a whole new world.

  3. The design looks pretty cool. No doubt it will be completed late, over budget, and if the beer drinking is a clue, it's probably going to need lot's of 'maintenance' if it doesn't outright sink or otherwise fall apart before it's opened. Good news for suicide prevention, not so much for romance.


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