SEATTLE -- Drivers beware! Changes are coming to the State Route 520 span as a new section of the bridge is about to open for the first time next week. And where you exit could change by up to a mile, so officials recommend you stay alert and pay attention.
The new 520 span is actually two bridges. There's the floating bridge that opened in April 2016 and a fixed portion of bridge that's anchored to the bottom of Lake Washington. After this weekend's closure of the westbound 520 lanes, you'll see a complete rearrangement of the traffic flow from Medina coming into Seattle.
"So this is a big milestone to begin to open this new structure to the public," says Steve Peer, spokesperson for the Washington State Department of Transportation.
Starting Monday, coming into Seattle will look a whole lot different. Drivers who want to exit at the Montlake neighborhood or the University of Washington or Lake Washington Boulevard will take a new off-ramp more than a mile earlier than you would today. It's part of a traffic pattern rearrangement as traffic is re-routed onto the new fixed portion of the 520 bridge.
"So really, if you are wanting to access into the Montlake area, we’re encouraging drivers to get over into the right lane almost as soon as you get onto the floating bridge," Peer says.
The shifting to the new exit ramp will allow crews the room to demolish the old Montlake exit ramps. When they're done in about a month and a half, the new westbound 520 lanes will fully reopen.
"Construction works in puzzle pieces, where you have to add a piece—sometimes you need to remove a piece," says Peer.
The long-awaited pedestrian and bicycle cross along 520 will open as early as October.
When the entire 520 span project is complete, both directions of travel will have an HOV lane and two regular lanes of travel.
If you'd like more information about how this change is going to look, check out this video from WSDOT