Imagine 30 000 people on a 2,35 kilometer ( 7710 feet) long floating bridge, the world’s longest!
The 520 Bridge was our neighbor the year we lived at Boyer Avenue. It connects Seattle to East Side, that’s east side of Lake Washington, Suburbia. At that time it traveled 130 000 cars a day, a massive commute artery. A detail in our living room window scenery where Portage Bay, Montlake Cut, University Hospital and sailboats competed about the attention. I loved our view, so much life and so beautiful!
The bridge was built in 1963 and wasn’t safe any more. After nearly 31 years of arguments, planning and construction, the people of Washington finally got to walk Saturday morning on their new Highway 520 floating bridge, and will drive on it by mid-April.
Floating bridges aren’t that common around the world, and the reason for it in Seattle is Lake Washington’s 61 meter (200-foot) depth and silty bottom which makes it nearly impossible to build solid columns underwater.
The new Lake Washington crossing is located next to - and south - of the old one, and arrives just in time for crews to remove the former crossing, instead of Mother Nature downing it with an earthquake or windstorm. Tougher components should make it resilient against gusts and waves. The road deck is high above the lake, so waves won’t slap cars on the highway like on the old one. Windstorms often shut it down as the deck was covered with water, as late as a few weeks ago.
So, Saturday morning Seattleites premiered the new 520 Bridge. Not by driving but by walking! Governor Jay Inslee spoke, a ribbon was cut, and crowds packed the place. Event planners had anticipated up to 40,000 people, but a few hours after the start they ran into an issue: Thousands wanted to leave at the same time, and there weren’t enough shuttle buses. Visitors waited as long as an hour for one of the 51 buses, each able to carry 100 people. Shortly after 3 p.m., officials announced no more visitors would be admitted onto the bridge.
The new bridge started off like the old one always was, a bottle neck. There was a backup getting off 520, nothing new there! Anxiety spread among the thousands on the bridge, but there were food trucks, and people in line for the buses were provided water. It wasn’t as if the circumstances were dire on this nice, 60s-ish day.