This weekend WSDOT will throw a Grand Opening for the new 520 Bridge, which will open to cars and transit in phases over the next few weeks. Saturday features a fun run beginning at 7:30am, speeches and ribbon cuttings at 10:30am, and a series of family-friendly activities (and if you get your event passport stamped at least twice, you can win Delta Airlines tickets).
Bikes will not be allowed on the bridge Saturday, and the only means of access to the bridge will be Metro-operated shuttles from southbound Montlake Boulevard, Houghton Park-and-Ride, South Kirkland Park-and-Ride, and the Bellevue Transit Center. The Seattle shuttle stop will be directly adjacent to UW Station (northbound on Montlake Boulevard). Unspecified bus reroutes of newly restructured routes 45, 48, 65, 67, 75, and 372 will also surely cause some headaches, especially since the reroute details have not been announced despite the event being tomorrow. And this is in addition to the standard diversion to I-90 of Routes 255 and 545 during SR 520 weekend closures.
In exchange for no bike access Saturday, on Sunday the sold-out Emerald City Bike Ride will allow people to ride their bikes not only on the new 520 bridge, but also in the I-5 express lanes for the first time. While myself and others are in for a big treat with this ride, it’s worth remembering that the new 520 bike path will dead-end in the middle of the bridge until mid-2017 when the West Approach Bridge North completes the connection to Montlake. The westbound bridge will open to vehicles on April 11, and the eastbound bridge will open two weeks later on April 25.
20 Replies to “520 Opening Ceremony: Bus Reroutes, Fun Run, Bike Ride”
I got this when I queried if ST was ready for lots of runners Saturday morning:
“We’ll have a mix of two and three-car trains all weekend and will be monitoring loads closely.”
Yikes. There are 13,000 runners participating. Almost as many as the Seattle Marathon! I have a feeling this event is going to be a big mess.
That’s similar to typical Mariners attendance, ‘eh? So it would never be a Seahawks parade-level mess. Husky Stadium hosts much bigger events all the time, and during times of day with much heavier traffic otherwise!
Running to the start I saw some backups on 45th heading in, and some drivers pulling random u-turns to get onto alternate routes (since every street except eastbound 45th was deserted). Due to people streaming in late they ended up delaying the start of the race at the last minute to… 7:40, then 7:35, finally settling on 7:36. I saw more a lot more people that appeared to be walking from the big parking lots to the north than walking out of the train station. That’s what you’d expect, right? A lot of people interested in 520 live in north Seattle and the eastside (I saw a bunch of 12ks of Christmas shirts), none of them can take Link yet, and the eastsiders’ normal transit routes would have been disrupted, too.
As for the event itself, they tried to cone it off on the bridge to give half the space to people going out and half to people coming in. Because the pack is much more bunched up early on, the outgoing runners were overflowing their half, to where incoming runners didn’t have a ton of space to go more than single-file, and sometimes people were darting out even into that space. Fortunately everyone ultimately got out of our way. I think I finished fourth, where we didn’t need more than single-file room except for occasional passing. It might have been tougher a little farther back, because the pack was much thicker in the 40-50 minute range. Weirdly, the ramp back up to Montlake Boulevard wasn’t a crush — maybe by the time I got there the bulk of the outgoing crowd had passed.
I was annoyed that the start was delayed after I’d already taken my sweats off, but other than that I thought it went well for a running event of that size. I was glad the 5k was canceled. Combined 5k/10k finishes are chaotic even at smaller races, and this one would have been an absolute brawl. The mile markers were all over the place but I think the overall course measurement might have been reasonably close, and by Seattle standards it wasn’t too hilly, making for a fast course.
Nitpick: You can also walk onto the new bridge from Evergreen Point. Given that there’ll be no buses there, though, I think I’ll just take the shuttle from South Kirkland.
They’ll have a bike corral at Evergreen Point. That was my original plan until I heard of the shuttles at Houghton P&R, which is much much closer to us. So we’ll do that, and I hope they have enough bike parking!
Point of minor contention: This is not the FIRST time the I-5 Express Lanes will have been opened to bikes. They were open to bikes on selected “Bicycle Sundays” in the 1980’s. I recall riding there as a kid….Quite an experience, but I much prefer a slow roll down Lake WA Blvd. these days.
Great to see them open again, though!
(Btw…Whatever happened to that idea of “Two Way HOV Lanes” on the I-5 Express Lanes corridor…Might improve the commute for everyone coming from Northgate and points North for the next 5 to 25 years until Link reaches each respective community along the line.
“Out-of-town participants along the I-5 corridor If you’re coming from outside the Seattle area, consider taking Amtrak Cascades to avoid the traffic. Southbound trains arrive in Seattle at 11:00 am from Vancouver BC, Bellingham, Mount Vernon, Stanwood, Everett and Edmonds.”
520 is of interest to people in Skagitonia and Bellingham??? I appreciate the train schedule, a lot actually because it’s the right direction for our regional events to go in (giving more specific information on transit access for those who don’t memorize the routes and schedules), but this particular train option doesn’t sound like something that’d be used much.
We rode from downtown to UW station intending to take the shuttle and walk on the bridge. But the line of people at around 1:30 was up to the fountain on campus. Was at least a two hour wait for the shuttle, and then again for shuttle back to rail station. Fiasco.
Loved the new station at UW and happy to see so many happy people on the train.
We got to South Kirkland around 1:30. Shortly thereafter the State Patrol decided that no more people should be allowed onto the bridge. Metro’s communication seemed about as good as could be expected, especially since the state patrol didn’t seem willing to answer the key question: would more people be allowed onto the bridge once crowds had cleared somewhat. We called it around 2:30.
3pm. Three-car Link at Capitol Hill and UW Station, standing room only. Sometimes there were a few seats left if anybody really wanted one. I went out to Montlake Blvd and got in line (with some fifteen others). A couple minutes later a woman said there were no more shuttles to the bridge because it was overcrowded and it was an hour’s wait to get back, and that the shuttles had stopped going to the bridge at 2pm. She asked if anyone lived on the Eastside or had a car on the Eastside, and said that’s the only way to the bridge party. I didn’t know if she meant shuttles would go from UW to the Eastside or why peoiple continued waiting in line, I didn’t care that much about the bridge party so I turned around. There were a significant number of people milling around Rainier Vista throwing frisbees and such; it kind of looked like a university open house or a Saturday Afternoon At The College. Returning at UW Station reminded me of London: there were already another trainload of people on the platform when the train left. Good thing those 3-car trains were there.
So if the ped/bike lane is only finished halfway across the bridge, does that mean it will be useless until the western approach is finished?
Yes, unless you want to do an “out and back” for fun…
Right, so everyone that was turned away today can get the full experience at some point in the next year or so.
I’ve heard Summer 2017 quoted for the real opening. We’ll see.
Got in line for the UW shuttle around 10:27am. Got on a shuttle about 20 minutes later and set foot on the bridge by 11am.
Crossed the walkable portion of the bridge four times (two in each direction), taking photos, etc. When I got back to the west side waiting area for shuttles around 2:50pm the line for shuttles was crazy long. I even went around to the front of it to take some photos and to make certain there weren’t separate lines. (There were separate lines for the various shuttles for 100′ or so but then there was just one jumbo line.)
I figured it had to be better on the east side (I had just been on that side and saw no similar line, plus the shuttles towards UW would be picking up there first). Around 3pm I approached the west side shuttle waiting area. While there was a long line for east side shuttles, there was zero wait for UW shuttles. I hopped on one and was back at Montlake Triangle in 12 minutes or so. People who got on the shuttle at the west side were saying they had been waiting an hour+. It was around that time that shuttles to the bridge were stopped for the day so that they could all be used to take people off the bridge. A mess.
Now I gotta sleep so I can bike across it tomorrow!
I biked to the UW station at 2 PM, had the valet park my bike, walked across Montlake and saw a line of people waiting for the shuttles that stretched to Drumheller fountain. Great weather and a beautiful station and plaza, free yogurt, but I got my bike and headed home.
Maybe they can have another open house next weekend? :)
I bused to South Kirkland P&R about 12:30. There was a slight traffic jam going in, and then a line for shuttles wrapping a quarter of the way around the parking lot… swiftly growing to halfway around as I waited. I was pleasantly surprised by how many shuttles were running, though; I boarded around 1:10 and got to the bridge without any problem.
I slowly walked across the bridge, meaning to take the shuttle over to Seattle and see how U-Link was running on the way to the Shakespeare First Folio exhibit at the downtown library. But, the Seattle-bound line was so long at that end I decided to jog back across and try the Seattle shuttle from the Evergreen Point side. There was a long, but much shorter, line there which a lot of us thought was the line for all the shuttles… but after five minutes or so, we were told this was the line for the Bellevue shuttles; everyone for Seattle could come right up and get on with zero wait.
(I think the problem was that the only place the Seattle shuttles could cross the median was at Evergreen Point. So, they all needed to head all the way across the bridge, get mixed up in the Eastside shuttle traffic, and then let everyone from that side have first pick before coming back to get the Seattle-side line. Plus, at least a few people didn’t have any idea that Seattle shuttles were stopping at both sides.)
All in all, it was a very good experience. I got some great photos and had a good time talking to some of the WSDOT engineers. Plus, afterwards, I got to look through all the crannies of UW Station for the first time – and the Shakespeare First Folio was fun too.
I did the walk/run earlier in the day. Took LINK from Beacon Hill Station at 5:52am with my sister. It was a 3 car train, but very empty. After the walk/run, saw how long the lines were (going back to Stevens Way), so did not go to the public event (but at least I took pictures during the walk/run), instead took a walk through campus, stopping by the University Book Store, lunch at Cali Burger, then the final destination at University District Farmers Market. After that I took the 71 back the LINK Station. The last stop was at 15th Ave NE and NE Pacific St, and we were to fend for ourselves to get to the LINK Station or Bridge Shuttles. (the bus turned right at 15th Ave NE, and down Boat St back to Brooklyn Ave NE, then Pacific St back to University Way NE, for the return trip back). This is not a good thing, for those trying to make connections (44, 45, 71 and 73) between buses and LINK. I think it was possible for those buses to keep on using NE Pacific Place (where the 44 and 45 lays over at), and stop there, but for the return trip, could have gone left to Northbound Montlake Blvd and gone via Pend Orielle Road though campus and resume regular route around NE 40th St (West entrance of campus). I wonder what Metro will do when Husky Football home games happen. These routes stop short of the LINK station?
The buses that let off all their riders on 15th and told them to walk to UW Station were the ones that normally circle around the Rainier Vista triangle. The shuttles were staging there, and needed all that space to queue up.
Other buses that turn right onto Montlake and head across the canal were not re-routed, as far as I could tell. The drivers letting people off at 15th didn’t seem to know this. (I was going to walk anyway.)
I got to the middle of the bridge in the middle of the lengthy speechifying. The two lines that got lots of applause were “and it is ready for light rail, if you choose to put it here,” and an exhortation to put away your phones when you are driving.
When I got in line to get the shuttle off the bridge, it was two lines. By the time I got to the front an hour and a half later, it was three lines back and forth.
The shuttles were crushloaded when people made the effort to use up the space (but a lot of Seattleites seem oblivious to this basic courtesy, so space was wasted). The trains were only crushloaded after the Sounders match, but well beyond 1.0 load factor all day when I was riding. The fans know how to make use of all the space, except for those who use the folding seats, instead of allowing six people to stand in that space. The crushloads were more backed up for northbound passengers at ID Station. This bodes well for ongoing ridership (or it says where people who can afford season tickets tend to live). Three-car trains and three points are a match made in Seattle.
On game days it will be better than it has been because a lot of people will be able to take the train. Traffic between the stadium and 520 will doubtless remain heavy and slow down the buses, but maybe less so with thousands of people taking Link. When East Link opens, that will cut down on Easside demands for that street space. Eastsiders who don’t normally take Link might be inclined to do so for Husky games. I don’t think the streets actually close on game days. And the transit lane on Montalke seems to be always. Further north, the streets that change parking rules on game days have signs listing the dates. If that were intended for Montlake Blvd, I think there’d be a similar sign. Also, the transit lane was used by the shuttles during the bridge party. Since there will still probably be a few shuttles after ST2 (e.g., South Kirkland P&R), I imagine they’ll be using the transit lane.
Could of just let people ride their bikes down there…but noooooooo..
Make sure people stay as far away from their scary bikes.
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