Wednesday, December 30, 2015

SR-520 Arboretum ramps finally coming down

Western exit from 520 to be replaced January 6

It's been well over five years since Madison Park first learned that the Arboretum ramps to and from the 520 floating bridge would ultimately be just a memory (see our May 2010 posting on that subject here.)  Next month, the neighborhood will begin to see the consequences, for better or worse, of this historic highway reconfiguration. The Westbound 520 exit to Lake Washington Boulevard will be permanently closed on January 5 at 11 p.m. Beginning at 5 a.m. on January 6, drivers wishing to exit 520 to head South at Montlake will need to use a new Westbound ramp to Lake Washington Boulevard, which will channel traffic onto 24th Avenue E. (as shown below):

At least initially, there will be two stops associated with this exit, one at 24th (to allow construction vehicles easier access to a staging area) and one at Lake Washington Boulevard, which will be permanent.  Drivers may turn either East or West onto the Boulevard, which will be a new four-way stop at that point.  For those interested, here's a nifty traffic animation from WSDOT showing how this will all work.

As most readers will recall, WSDOT has had its issues with the new exit ramp from 520 to Montlake Boulevard, which opened earlier this year.  WSDOT is already noting that "as drivers adjust to the new [Lake Washington Boulevard] off-ramp, WSDOT will work with the City of Seattle to monitor traffic conditions and adjust signal timing on Montlake Boulevard as needed."

Ultimately, all of the Arboretum ramps will be outta here, of course:

The contractor has already demolished part of the "Ramps to Nowhere" configuration (a remnant of the never-built R.H. Thompson Expressway) and the final removal of these unconnected ramps is expected to be completed by the end of Spring 2016, according to WSDOT.  Meanwhile, no firm date has been established for removal of the existing Eastbound entrance ramp to 520 from the Arboretum.  This will happen no earlier than the fall of 2016, though more likely in 2017.  

The Westbound ramp needed to be replaced now because it is in the path of the new SR 520 West Approach Bridge North, which will connect the three Westbound lanes of the new floating bridge with 520 in the Montlake area:

Completion of the new approach bridge is scheduled for the summer of 2017.