WSDOT has released some renderings of the 520 replacement bridge. Oddly, they all seem to show few or no cars on the bridge. I really want to know what you think, so please put your opinions in the comments.
A view of the sentinel from the bicycle/pedestrian path, at night

View of bicycle/pedestrian path at belvedere

East transition

Profile view of the belvedere

View of the new SR 520 floating bridge, looking west

147 Replies to “520 Bridge Renderings”

    1. I learned at the open house that the toll on the bridge will be going up 2.5% per year. Seems logical but I suspect most people don’t realize that and will get even more irritated as the tolls slowly rise.

      1. Hey, they’ll keep raising the tolls until no one except for Bill Gates uses the bridge.

  1. I like those night-lit pylons. Hopefully those incorporate all the usual energy efficiency design elements – LEDs, solar power, and so on. I don’t know that anyone is going to want to hang out at the park on the Montlake cap, though. Still, the green space is appreciated.

    1. People seem to hang out at the park right next to the market overlooking 99, which is similarly loud and obnoxious. Of course it is also right next to services and has a great view.

      1. I either didn’t know or had forgotten that Medina was getting a lid, in that case.

      2. I’m having trouble seeing any detail on the Montlake side of things. What does the park look like? Anyone have a link?

      3. @RossB: As for the Montlake side, diagrams here show that area and several others. They seem to intend to build a second Montlake Bridge (!). And have HOV lanes that sort of bypass Montlake Blvd. traffic issues.

        It is impressive that their diagram of the Montlake area doesn’t even have the light rail station in it. Impressive as a demonstration of the total lack of coordination between state and local agencies. That is going to have huge consequences for biking, walking, and transit flow, and… naturally WSDOT doesn’t even mention it.

      4. Thanks. I appreciate the links.

        Now that I look at it, I’m rather disappointed. When it was first sketched out, I though there were going to add a lot of parkland and a big cap. Now that I look at it, I can’t help but think “Why Bother?”. Except for a little greenery, I see no substantive change. For example, if you go to MOHAI (or the MOHAI area — I know it is moving) and want to head south right now, you have to cross on 24th. With the new bridge, nothing changes. OK, it is a little greener as you cross, but so what? You can’t cross to the east or the west. Likewise, with the crossing by Roanoke its the same situation. I’ve very disappointed. I’m afraid I didn’t get involved in the planning, and I assume it is too late to do so. I had hoped that it would be like freeway park, in that new crossings were being added. Instead, it is just some shrubbery, and that is about it. This is hardly much of a benefit for pedestrians.

      5. The western approach isn’t funded anyway. So any plan to fund it can make design changes.

    2. When 520 becomes a real bike route, the Montlake lid will make a nice rest stop. Just like the park above the west approach to the I-90 bridge today.

  2. The perspective in the first rendering seems a bit off. The benches look like they’re facing the illuminated column, but the third image shows the benches just west of the column.

    It definitely looks wider. I don’t really see the segmentation for light rail, or where it would even go, especially under/over the lid at Evergreen Pt. (yeah, yeah, not in final design).

      1. It’s worse than that. Does anybody see Bus#1? This is the whole problem in a nutshell: people who design things like century projects for regional bridges still think transit is something that will go away when everybody gets a car. Including a flying one.

        And this also really sums up the job for those of us who think otherwise: making transit, whatever the material covering the wheels, unless it’s mag-lev and doesn’t need wheels, so essential to the whole idea of a bridge that nobody would dare leave it out.

        Whatever the financial entailments of gas tax revenue, this is why I’d work for a Constitutional amendment to call transit a “highway use:” to make transit an idea people use to think with, rather than one more thing to think about and discard.

        Mark Dublin

        Mark Dublin

      2. not including the provision for future light rail is frankly stupid

        What’s stupid is future light rail. It’s a complete waste of money, supported by yuppies and railroad fetishists.

      3. What’s stupid is future light rail. It’s a complete waste of money, supported by yuppies and railroad fetishists.

        Just as building bigger bridges and roads are a complete waste of money, supported by hicks and car fetishitsts. We can play this both ways.

    1. If you look at the Flikr set, you’ll find that there are five “belvederes” along the path. The one in the first photo is at midspan.

      1. I meant the belvedere in the second photo.
        The one in the first photo is at the east transition structure.

  3. My first impression of the sentinel tower from the top photo was that it looked like an extended middle finger. In the third photo down, much less so.

    1. For the same reason Washington State, when redesigning vehicle license plates a couple decades ago, didn’t put a speck of green in the plate, instead only using red, white, and blue, even though it boldly says on the plate, “Evergreen State.”

      1. I’ve always wondered about that! The basic design and colors were designed by a high-school student as part of a design competition in conjunction with the state centennial in 1989 and have been basically unchanged since then. I keep hoping they will change the color of the name of the state and the “Evergreen State” motto to green, because I think it makes much better design sense, but It never happens. Actually, they should have changed to a completely new design when they changed the numbering scheme recently (From “123-AAA” to “AAA1234”)

      2. I’d love a new license plate design, too, but it won’t happen. I understand the legislature has to vote to change the design (which they don’t have time for) and others would say that with all the “special interest” designs, no need to revamp the default. I like some of the specialty plates, but they don’t say “Evergreen State” on them, so I stick with the rather boring default.

      3. “I like some of the specialty plates, but they don’t say “Evergreen State” on them, so I stick with the rather boring default.”

        They do if you get the Evergreen State College plate. ;)

        (And money goes to the school if you do. And your plate will have a tree on it. But it would have been cooler if they’d put the geoduck on the plate instead!)

  4. I was a little surprised at how many people are going to be “out for a stroll” on the world’s longest floating bridge. Apparently, it’s going to be a cool place to hang out.

      1. Actually quite a few people use the path on I-90 as a jogging route. A bit dangerous with bikes wizzing past in both directions and running on concrete wouldn’t be my first choice.

      2. If I go for a weekend bike ride over I-90 I see a few other people biking and sometimes runners or walkers. Probably more walkers on the short span between Mercer Island and the eastside…

      3. I’ve walked the I-90 bridge and it’s not pleasant with bikes whipping by. It’s not wide enough. Also the auto noise is totally unpleasant.

        As a bicycle commuter, I pass usually two runners also on their way to work in the morning. One guy runs 8 miles to his job.

        This new path should be wide enough for both bicyclists and walkers.

        I was also wondering if they’ll let us fish from those pushouts.

      4. The 520 bridge is also a mile longer than I90 from shore to shore, so that’ll really take a hack at the number of walkers.

      5. I walked the I-90 bridge once. Between the cars and bikes whizzing by and the sense of vertigo I got from being on a floating bridge, it was a harrowing experience.

      6. The Lacey Murrow Bridge total length, 6620 ft. Evergreen Point Floating Bridge, total length 7,578 ft. Not that much different. About 300 yards longer.

      7. @Bernie Those measurements include the floating span but not the approach spans. For 520, the west side approach span adds an additional 4000 feet to the overall bridge length.

    1. Given the length of the bridge, I predict bikers will outnumber runners, and runners will outnumber walkers.

      It’s a half hour stroll from one side to another. Now, the view over the water might be spectacular on a summers night, but the constant rush of traffic will likely diminish that quite a bit. I can possibly imagine people taking a 10-15 minute walk out to one of the benches to enjoy the view – it looks like those walls at the belvederes might serve as noise barriers, making them semi-peaceful (think freeway park, but with less concrete and more lake).

      1. We don’t need more than one or two ped/bike view pullouts. I have biked on I-90. Environment awful. Noisy and windy.

    2. We once walked from the Mercer Slough back downtown on a nice Saturday. Found the bridge walk interesting, and certainly closer to pleasant than harrowing.

  5. Massive POS. Times like these I wonder where people and the Times get off saying there is a war on cars.

    1. haven’t you heard? people are already chirping on the internets about how the bridge is wasting good space for an additional traffic lane by having space for pedestrians and bicycles

  6. I’m a huge fan of that 30s/40s Art Deco style, which this bridge at least gives a nod to. I think the idea that people will go out for a stroll on it is pretty fanciful.

      1. The pictured lid is in Evergreen Point. If they planted grass and waited for paths to be worn bare they’d never build any paths at all. There just aren’t that many people there.

      2. (At any rate, the overhead views show that the curving path won’t really be as indirect as it looks from the rendering because the road will also be curved. From the south, the road enters the bridge going straight north, then bends to the west; the path, starting at the sidewalk, cuts out an arc to the west and meets the road again at the end of the bridge. I think building landscaped “lid” bridges is silly when there are so many real transportation needs for this corridor, but it seems that transportation agencies in these parts think transportation infrastructure is controversial, and everyone loves parks, so we might as well blow our money on parks.)

  7. I suppose it HAS to be ten times larger than the old one, right? That is a hell of a lot of concrete.

    Seems a shame not to use that vast concrete deck for something. Put a cafe there for boaters? When I was a kid and had access to a boat we used to hang out under the bridge supports on both Evergreen Point and MI bridges, and smoke pot recite the Pledge of Allegiance. We also used to waterski close enough to send spray up over the edge onto cars. It’ll probably be illegal to boat anywhere near the place now.

    The greensward is a crime against humanity.

    1. Great idea. Coffee shop on pontoons. Area would get more use with that instead of a raceway for maintence vehicles once a month!

    2. I’d go further. What’s to stop us from a whole large floating island half way across? It could even have trees, since it’s a freshwater lake. Just have them produce a few extra pontoons, and anchor them 100′ away from the bridge (to reduce noise), and add a floating path.

      1. that would actually be kinda cool … would be a great spot to watch the Blue Angels from

  8. I think they did a good job of incorporating public comments into this project. The scale is reasonable and having HOV lanes will be a major plus when it comes to transit across the lake. And finally a direct bicycle route from Ballard to Bellevue (I have family over there so I can anticipate using this on a summer weekend to visit them!) I imagine a lot of husky stadium visitors will also use the bike path on game days.

  9. What I don’t get about this project is that the first things they’ve found funding for are things that have basically no impact. Super-wide landscaped bridges with traffic circles at Evergreen, Hunt’s, and Yarrow Points? A two-level bridge where nothing ever happens on the bottom level? Is there any pressing need for these things? Will they have any real impact at all?

    Meanwhile there’s a pressing need for better transit and biking connections across the Montlake Bridge, and projects improving those things would have a huge impact. And they sit unfunded. The Portage Bay Bridge design doesn’t include a bike path, which would have at least moderate impact.

    I’m not really sure where WSDOT’s head is on a lot of this stuff. The changes for biking on the eastside will be nice, but I don’t think they’re getting much bang for their buck.

  10. I love the Sentinels – especially going green at night to symbolize crossing to the Emerald City from the eastside.

    Bike paths are nice but not essential for a commuting roadway between east and west sides of Lake Washington.

    1. “Bike paths are nice but not essential for a commuting roadway between east and west sides of Lake Washington.”

      Say WA? The addition of a second path , especially one to the UW, is going to increase bike commuting overall…

    2. “Bike paths are nice but not essential for a commuting roadway between east and west sides of Lake Washington.”

      how else are they going to cross the giant lake?

      1. Good luck finding space on the racks on a nice day. The wait some mornings can be almost an hour. I’ve seen fist fights break out over who gets the open slots on the bus.

    3. Why not add a bike path? We have a once-in-50-year chance to do so. The cost of adding an extra 10′ to the width (or whatever) for extremly light bikes and peds is insignificant compared to the whole project. Such as the cost of of adding 2 shoulders needing to support buses and trucks, or HOV lanes, or modern safety features.

  11. Wow, that bike/ped path looks really nice, wide, and gold-plated! Are we sure it was designed by the Washington State Department of Moving Automobiles?

    1. What’s with the snarky remarks here about cars? This bridge will also work for the hundreds of buses that will use it daily.

      This region will never commute by bike because of the topography and the weather we get in the Northwest. The best we can do is not substitution but to offer choices and alternatives to the car. This new design does just that, just like Light Rail and the Streetcars we have built do. Commuter rail also. With time, folks will figure out what works for them. Since McGinn took over as mayor of Seattle, getting everyone to use bicycles has become a region-wide obsession. Not if Seattle wants to maintain its central role in the region’s economy will we all take to bikes.

      1. Huh? Have you ever actually been to Seattle? It has very mild weather…

        [… and the snarky remark about automobiles is obviously because indeed state transportation departments tend to have a huge automobile fetish and a singled-minded fixation on “efficient traffic movement,” even when the result is a horrifyingly unlivable sea of pavement.]

      2. You realize Minneapolis has a higher percentage of bicycle riders, as does Portland. Portland has the same weather we do, and Minneapolis has far colder winter weather. Yes hills are an issue for about a month when you start commuting by bicycle. After that you get in shape and used to them.

      3. This region will never commute by bike? Seattle bikes at a higher rate than all but a handful of US cities. This despite the tough hills, rough roads, gloomy weather, all the roads built to keep bikes and pedestrians off, and the fact that the hodgepodge of agencies that provide bike infrastructure around here rarely even acknowledge the transportational needs of cyclists (see the Burke-Gilman detour and surrounding politics; the film crew that blocked one of the busiest parts of the trail for a week shooting some forgettable movie; the waterfront project that wants a bike trail, but not one remotely usable by commuters).

        If there were a couple really good bike routes to and through downtown this region would commute by bike just to prove your blog comment wrong.

      4. Since McGinn took over as mayor of Seattle, getting everyone to use bicycles has become a region-wide obsession.

        What city have you been living in? In the Seattle I’m used to, biking has been a city-wide “obsession” for at least 20 years – McGinn was only elected a few years ago. And most of our bike infrastructure improvements were built/planned under Nickels.

      5. Go stand on Eastlake or Dexter in the morning and then tell me that people here don’t commute by bike.

      6. @Al Dimond

        Of course, to be fair, “bikes at a higher rate than all but a handful of US cities” is a pathetically low bar…

    2. Well referring to WSDOT as Washington State Department of Moving Automobiles sounds pretty snarky to me. What else is WSDOT supposed to do with its budget? Sure, I don’t think that they spend nearly enough on heavy rail and until we get more trains to PDX and to Vancouver and build projects to stabilize the mudslide situation north of Seattle and build the Point Defiance bypass, then they can only get a low grade in my book for their priority to rail.

      However, looking at the bridge, I think they have done a nice job providing for a bike path for the zealots that take their bikes across the lake. I do not see though that WSDOT should be about providing endless bike highways throughout the state. Again, you cannot move lots of commuters and freight via bike and it is silly to think along those lines. WSDOT would be the laughing stock amongst the States if they did that.

  12. “This region will never commute by bike because of the topography and the weather we get in the Northwest.”

    Say WA?

    Check out the peleton coming out of Downtown on Dexter or over at the I-90 trail…

    1. What’s a peleton? The issue is not about whether folks should use bikes or not to get around but whether WSDOT needs to fund bike lanes as a priority. Sometimes I think the bike lobby is as zealous as the Miami Cuban community and just as misguided in my opinion in their focus.

      1. Not every road needs to have a bike lane for sure – in fact, most of the time if a low-traffic street is available (as long as arterial crossings are not dangerous), I would use it instead of going on an arterial with a bike lane. However, There are only 2 crossings of this long and narrow bridge – so enabling people to bike over both of them does wonders in terms of connectivity. I have to bike 20+ miles if I want to bike to work by going on either I-90 or North of the lake – too long for a daily commute for me. But a bike lane on 520 would make the commute 13 miles, and that will make me much more likely to bike every day. And I’m sure I’m not the only one. I think you would be surprised by the usage you will get on that bike lane once it’s done.
        And I can guarantee you adding the bike lane is not a big chunk of the 4+ billion dollars that this project costs..

      2. You made the issue about whether people should use bikes to get around, and whether people do use bikes to get around.

        There should be a reasonable route for self-powered travel where there’s a route for motorized travel. It usually doesn’t take a network of bike highway. Most places it’s provided on the road surface or sidewalks; on many freeways it’s provided by parallel roads, and that’s fine. On 520? It’s provided by attaching your bike to the front of a bus, which is actually kind of risky (people’s bikes do fly out of the racks from time to time, it’s a bumpy road). Despite the problems, so many people do it that Metro had to create a policy to pick them up with deadheading buses. At night in the wet, dark winter I still get passed up by buses with full bike racks sometimes.

        WSDOT didn’t need to hear from any so-called zealots to know that a path was a necessary element of this bridge. Everyone involved in related projects knows, without having to hear from any so-called zealots, that when it’s done it will get tons of traffic. The only one that doesn’t see this is you.

      3. Ever heard of Complete Streets?

        Now WSDOT doesn’t actually build streets, more like highways or street-road hybrids (“stroads”), but I think for a corridor like 520 and I-90, where there is no alternative direct route it makes sense to accommodate pedestrians and bicyclists.

    2. You know…I used to think that.

      But I was in Fort Collins two weeks ago which is noted around the nation as a center for bicycling. There are bike lanes everywhere…even on remote suburban side streets. Many corridors and main streets with cyclists.

      But this time on my trip I took a joyride (in a car, albeit) West towards the rockies. A few miles from town the landscape changes into a fantastic hilly brown mountainous area, as I enter the Rockies.

      And you know what I saw…all over, on grades that were fantastically steep even for cars were cyclists. And not just a hardy few…but hundreds of cyclists taking these Alpine roads!!!

      Same when I went hiking off road on a stretch known as the “Devil’s Backbone”. I was on this small narrow dirt trail, walking on the side of a hill, and I had to move over every 3 minutes for a group of off roader bicyclists!!

      So, stop saying it can’t be…it is in Colorado!!

  13. So, during the 10+ years between when the new floating bridge is finished, but the west approach hasn’t begun yet, what’s going to be the state of this bike path? Will people be able to walk/bike halfway across the lake, then turn around and go back? Or will it simply be closed?

    1. Good question.. Does anybody know? It would be a real shame if the path is unusable for a long time because it doesn’t connect to anything on the Western side…

    2. May not be wating too long… From the Seattle Times..

      “Hammond says the DOT is seeking a federal loan to speed construction of the next piece: fixed spans westward from Foster Island to the Montlake exit. A state amendment forbids that phase until financing is assured for the entire corridor including Montlake and North Capitol Hill lids.

      But the federal government might provide literally a “bridge loan” to reach Montlake a few years sooner, while the state begins collecting the remaining money to go all the way, through I-90 tolls or new taxes. In this scenario, one of three westbound lanes on the new bridge peel off at Montlake Boulevard for a few years, until the whole route to Interstate 5 is done, said Hammond.”

  14. I like the architectural style shown. I hope everyone appreciates how much effort it took WSDOT to get to this point. When this corridor if finshed it will be a huge addition to our tranist system. I can only hope that having the HOV lanes will encourage a large amount of grass roots car/van pool commuting options.

  15. One thing that makes we a bit nervous is that, on the one hand, we’re making big investments to 520 as a bus corridor. At the same time, we’re building East Link which, when complete, will render the highest-ridership bus route of 520 – the 545 – obsolete. Spending hundreds of millions to improve the 520 corridor at the same time as spending billions to deemphasize it feels just a little bit inefficient.

    Then, of course, the 520 HOV lane has always been and will continue to be just one Eyman initiative away from being turned into just another general-purpose lane.

    1. At the same time, we’re building East Link which, when complete, will render the highest-ridership bus route of 520 – the 545 – obsolete.

      So I guess it’s not worth doing for the 271, 311, 540, 252, 257, 255, or the connector routes, not to mention all of the carpools that use that HOV lane?

      Then, of course, the 520 HOV lane has always been and will continue to be just one Eyman initiative away from being turned into just another general-purpose lane.

      That may be true except that Herr Eyman has been unsuccessful in pushing his ideas on transportation. He has the public’s pulse on restraining growth in taxes but I can’t think of a single Eyman initiative that has passed related to transportation issues, except if you count things like 695.

      People around here get that HOV lanes work. Hopefully they will also eventually get that tolls can be a good thing, especially if they eventually fund a far more robust public transportation network.

    2. Couple that with the fact that a relatively small toll decreased traffic by 40% in a few short months and one has to wonder why this bridge is being built at all!!

    3. Kirkland called. It objects to the idea that East Link serves it and transit lanes on 520 are useless.

  16. The drawings show far too many bicyclists and pedestrians. The number of cyclists and pedestrians on the I-90 bridge rounds down to zero, even though there is every reason to be more of them there. It’s a joke to put a bike and pedestrian lane on the 520 bridge, and even worse to make access free. No wonder so many people in Seattle despise bicyclists. Isn’t there a single thing any of you people will pay for, or do you spend your lives mooching off of everyone else?

      1. Bicyclists pay for roads too …

        No you don’t. Bicyclists are whining freeloaders who demand that drivers pay for their infrastructure, and then wonder why so many people despise them.

    1. It is amazing that the three or four times a month I cross the lake on the I-90 bridge I see perhaps up to a dozen cyclists on the bridge. It must just be pure chance that all the cycling for the month occurs during the minute or so I personally am on the bridge.

      As I said, amazing.

      1. You really can’t compare the location of the two bridges for cyclists!

        The end points of I-90 are basically in Nowheresville.

        The 520 terminates at the University of Washington! And would provide a direct corridor to Microsoft and other Redmond businesses!!

    2. “Isn’t there a single thing any of you people will pay for, or do you spend your lives mooching off of everyone else?”

      I’m happy to compare tax bills any time. I pay property tax, sales tax, income tax, and utility taxes. I also pay for 2 car tabs and gas taxes although likely not as much gas tax as you do. If you think that wins the argument for you, you are deluded. Go and look at *any* city transportation budget and you will find that gas taxes make up a small percentage of their transportation spending.

      1. I pay property tax, sales tax, income tax, and utility taxes. I also pay for 2 car tabs and gas taxes although likely not as much gas tax as you do.

        You pay no dedicated bike taxes. None. But you and the rest of your selfish group demands that other vehicle taxes pay for your goodies. Guess what? The defeat of Prop. 1 in Seattle has ended that little charade.

      1. Yes, I’d say they should pay proportionately to the wear and tear on the bridge.

        So relative to a two-ton car with it’s 60mph, 4 wheel foot print, that would come out to about 0.0001 of a penny.

        Go ahead. Set it up.

    3. @SeattleCitizen – the next time you drive across the I-90 bridge, look at the trail you pass by. If it’s a reasonable hour and not pouring down rain, the odds are extremely good that in the 2 minutes it takes to drive across the bridge, you’ll pass at least one bicycle/pedestrian. If it’s a sunny day, you’ll probably see several. The actual usage on the trail does not round down to zero.

      As to 520, I’ve encountered a lot of people today who bike to Montlake, bus to Evergreen Point, then bike to their place of employment on the eastside. With a bike path to get across the bridge, almost none of these people that are already biking 8-10 miles are going to go through the trouble of stopping and waiting for a bus when biking just 2 miles more of a flat bridge crossing is an available alternative. I see evidence of this all the time, in that the bike racks on buses crossing the I-90 bridge are consistently less full than those on buses crossing the 520 bridge.

      1. Wow, I will see several hundred cars, and one bicyclist. That proves my point. Putting bike lanes on the bridges is one of the many feel-good wastes of money that drive up the cost of living in Seattle.

  17. The Good-to-Go Card is a hardship on the poor. They can’t afford to buy the card. So, everybody should do their part for social justice, and wait in line behind poor drivers fumbling cash at a tollbooth. To charge more to pay with cash is just all kinds of unfair!

  18. It’s unfair that a single occupancy vehicle pays $7 round trip over the bridge, while a fully loaded 30 ton bus pays nothing. Transit agencies, and, I believe, every passenger on board the bus, should pay a toll for every crossing. Everyone needs to pay their fair share.

    Also, the bike/pedestrian path should be covered. We live in Seattle, not San Diego.

    1. ST and KCM buses move 18,000 people every day over 520 (Dec 2011), which represents an additional 10-20% more people crossing Lake Washington on an over-used, 4-lane highway and this directly benefits SOV users.

      And how is it unfair? Because of SOV’s, we need a new bridge. If only buses and commercial vehicles could to use the bridge, we (you know, like everyone in WA) wouldn’t need to cough up $4+ billion to meet SOV capacity issues. And it’s a user-based fee, which is the fairest way for users to pay for something that will directly benefit them. Besides, life isn’t always fair and the buses have G2G passes in their front windows ;-)

      1. Buses may have G2G passes on their windshields, but they aren’t being charged to cross the lake. It’s my understanding that they are exempt from paying.

      2. And yes, there is something very unfair about a poor person who has to pay $7 every day to cross the bridge, which could be around 10% of his net income, if he has a minimum wage job, vs a bus filled with Microsoft workers who pay no toll at all. It’s unethical.

      3. Sam, so your argument is that bus riders should individually pay the bridge toll because they are rich Microsoft employees, so as to be fair to all the car drivers who spend 10% of their income on the toll?

        You may want to apply a bit more intellectual rigor to your thinking.

      4. The part I find most amusing about this discussion is that no one has called Sam on his assumption that Microsoft employees are over-represented on buses compared to general 520 ridership. In fact, that poor person is probably riding the bus, while that Microsoft employee is probably driving, and paying a toll for it.

        When it comes to Lake Washington crossings, the scarce resource is space. Weight is a red herring. (WSDOT agrees; their tolls scale linearly with the number of axles, rather than with weight.)

        The average length of a car is 13 feet; the average length of an articulated bus is 60 feet. Therefore, to a first approximation, the toll for a bus should be 4x that of a car. However, an average articulated bus will also have about 60 passengers; therefore, the appropriate per-rider toll at rush hour is approximately 25 cents.

        Note that my calculations are for peak rates. Off-peak, when tolls are 1/4 or 1/3 of the peak rate, the difference is closer to a dime.

        So sure, go ahead and charge buses the standard 6-axle toll (which is the maximum toll that WSDOT charges). I think that the fare on peak-only express buses should be doubled anyway. But anyone who thinks this is a major issue is making a mountain out of a molehill.

    2. It’s unfair that a single occupancy vehicle pays $7 round trip over the bridge, while a fully loaded 30 ton bus pays nothing. Transit agencies, and, I believe, every passenger on board the bus, should pay a toll for every crossing.

      No no no, you’ve got it backwards. WSDOT should be paying Metro/ST for every loaded bus that crosses the bridge. After all, every full bus crossing the bridge frees up room for ~100 extra cars, increasing bridge capacity.

      I look forward to the implementation of this much fairer reverse tolling system.

  19. What’s in those cars? What’s in those buses? Commuters. Which are people who have chosen to live a costly, unsustainable lifestyle. That’s why the bridge has to be built. To enable a lifestyle choice. And anyone who crosses the bridge is guilty of forcing a new bridge to be built.

    1. “unsustainable lifestyle” ? Really? Lets not label everyone. Like it or not, that lifestyle is why Seattle is here. It’s why you’re here and I’m here. It’s how Seattle has grown the last 50 years. That lifestyle provides jobs and a future. A future that we can change and adapt to the needs of a growing city. Sam, I hope as a future blogger on this site you will take a less extreme and pragmatic view. There will always be a place for personal transportation, whether it’s fossell fuel or electric powered.

    2. Not just commuters but… everyone who makes occasional trips across the metropolitan area. Delivery drivers, and those who visit their customers on-site.

  20. I almost forgot to mention, starting tomorrow, I will start blogging here at STB. (I’m composing my first post right now). I’ve been asked several times in the past, and couldn’t accept, but now I am proud to say I will be contributing here on a regular basis. You should see my bio in the About Us section before the day’s end. Again, Martin, and all my fellow STB colleagues, thank you for the invitation.

    – Sam

  21. No wave guards? I guess traffic will be traveling at 5mph during wind storms for the next century. But it’s worth it so people can have a nice view and slow down to 5mph on sunny days too.

    1. The new bridge is up on stilts like Hood Canal. They lowered it some from the original hideous design but I think the roadbed will still be something like 20′ above the water. Considerably higher than the current splash guards. Also, the outer two “lanes” (one’s a bike path until they restripe it) are cantilevered so waves will be hitting the pontoons inside the footprint of the bridge deck. I’d like to see a sound/safety barrier between the GP lanes and the bike path but motorists would likely pitch a fit.

    2. You mean to tell us there’s no chance of a bicyclist being swept off the bike path by a big wave? Dang!

  22. Can you believe this? WSDOT doesn’t even know what these vertical sentinels with stairways to maintain the stars and heaveninterrupting views of Mt Rainier and Olympics and Cascades cost! For years residents have told WSDOT make bew 520 low profile and we get 30 feet off water like DT viaduct state tearing down because an eyesore. Any money allotted for these obtrusive wide concrete vertical slabs should go to Montlake area lid. State must not be as broke as it says!

    …Madison Park Community Council’s feedback. The pillars, or sentinels, as the designers call them, are included as part of the contract with the design-build contractor for the floating bridge. The cost of this contract is set as a lump sum, so we are unable to separate the cost of each design feature from the overall cost of the project.
    The sentinels are intended to help set the context of the bridge as a regional structure and convey a sense of place as people cross the bridge. They mark the ends of the floating bridge and act as a visual point of reference as users cross from the water-based floating bridge to the land-based approaches. The sentinels also serve a structural function as they house stairwells that will allow maintenance workers access to the entire length of the bridge.

  23. Why aren’t all you transit folks up in arms about the lousy connection (1/3 mi walk in crummy weather from 520 to ST stadium station) from 520 buses to take light rail north eventually?

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