Follow us:

The Today File

Your guide to the latest news from around the Northwest

July 5, 2012 at 1:40 PM

520 bridge drawspan openings finally banned at busy traffic hours

In a move to help drivers on the Highway 520 floating bridge, the Coast Guard has changed its boating regulations to limit when boats can pass through the drawspan on Lake Washington.

In recent weeks, bridge traffic frequently halted near the start or end of commuting time, so that drivers either wound up paying a $2.80 toll (now $2.87 just before peak times) to stop their cars on the deck, or had to drive around using I-90. There were a total 59 drawspan openings in April, May and June, says the Washington State Department of Transportation. The public has been making suggestions and complaints not to DOT but also to state legislators.

Starting today boaters are banned from passing through on weekdays between 6:30 a.m. and 10 a.m., and between 3 p.m. and 7 p.m.  A drawspan opening can take 30 minutes, so the last early morning passage begins at 6 a.m. and the last early afternoon passage at 2:30 p.m.  Also, boaters must give two hours notice to request an opening.

Previously, the drawspan openings were banned weekdays from 6 a.m. to 9 a.m. and 4 p.m. to 7 p.m. The new rules were published Tuesday in the U.S. Coast Guard’s Local Notice to Mariners.

“We greatly appreciate drivers’ patience while we gathered the information and worked with the Coast Guard to find a balance between drivers and the boating community that is allowed access on public waterways,” said a statement by Julie Meredith, 520 program manager for state DOT, who announced the change Thursday with Randall Overton, regional Coast Guard bridge administrator.

The state has posted a video here .

Construction of a new, six-lane floating bridge has blocked the usual boat access below the east highrise, which has room for vessels up to 64 feet tall to pass below. Boats taller than 44 feet now require a drawspan opening because they are too tall to pass beneath the west highrise. The rules are in effect until August 2015, but the construction barges will be moved out of the way for special weekends, such as Seafair in early August, to allow more boat travel.

Comments | Topics: Highway 520 Bridge

COMMENTS

No personal attacks or insults, no hate speech, no profanity. Please keep the conversation civil and help us moderate this thread by reporting any abuse. See our Commenting FAQ.



The opinions expressed in reader comments are those of the author only, and do not reflect the opinions of The Seattle Times.


The Seattle Times

The door is closed, but it's not locked.

Take a minute to subscribe and continue to enjoy The Seattle Times for as little as 99 cents a week.

Subscription options ►

Already a subscriber?

We've got good news for you. Unlimited seattletimes.com content access is included with most subscriptions.

Subscriber login ►
The Seattle Times

To keep reading, you need a subscription upgrade.

We hope you have enjoyed your complimentary access. For unlimited seattletimes.com access, please upgrade your digital subscription.

Call customer service at 1.800.542.0820 for assistance with your upgrade or questions about your subscriber status.

The Seattle Times

To keep reading, you need a subscription.

We hope you have enjoyed your complimentary access. Subscribe now for unlimited access!

Subscription options ►

Already a subscriber?

We've got good news for you. Unlimited seattletimes.com content access is included with most subscriptions.

Activate Subscriber Account ►