The second cycle of new 520 Bridge pontoons that floated out of Aberdeen last month is now on the move, with the first tugboat delivery to Lake Washington expected this afternoon between 3-6pm. The surreal sight of a 360-foot-long concrete box floating through the Ballard Locks and Montlake Cut could make tonight’s rush hour commute more interesting than usual. The other new pontoons are, for the time being, heading to various moorage sites around the state, as crews are still working to fix the cracks in the first cycle pontoons delivered to Medina last summer.
Drivers, boaters and residents around Lake Washington should be on the lookout for State Route 520 bridge pontoons moving through the lake this month.
Contractor crews will float one pontoon through the Hiram M. Chittenden Locks in Ballard between 3 and 6 p.m. this afternoon, Wednesday, May 15. A pontoon already on the lake will be moved from its current staging location to another location on the lake, making way for a pontoon from Aberdeen to use that staging area when it arrives on the lake later this month.
Two of the six pontoons recently constructed in Aberdeen have been towed to a moorage site in Tacoma and a third is on its way later this week. The final two pontoons from the second cycle of pontoons built in Aberdeen will remain moored in Grays Harbor until they are needed for bridge construction.
On Lake Washington, crews will prepare four pontoons from the first cycle built in Aberdeen for additional modifications recommended by an expert review panel in February. The Washington State Department of Transportation is coordinating with floating bridge contractor Kiewit/General/Manson, A Joint Venture, to finalize the details and timeline of the work.
Image: Seatlle P-I Collection, MOHAI
Saturday is the Opening Day of boating season and Windermere Cup regatta so the only traffic passing through Montlake will be the floating kind. The Montlake Bridge will close to vehicles from
7am 10am to 4pm as will 520′s westbound exit to Montlake Blvd. Thousands of people attend this annual event and with sun in the forecast through the weekend, a big turnout along the shores of the Ship Canal is expected.
The Windermere Cup will be Ivy League this year, as Washington hosts Cornell and Dartmouth. Races begin at 9:55 and wrap up with the Women’s and Men’s Eights just before noon. The parade of boats follows until 3pm with upwards of 900 vessels steaming out into Lake Washington.
For those with sails approaching 60′, you’ll be pleased to know that construction crews working on the new 520 Bridge have moved their barges out of the East Channel for this weekend’s boat traffic. Cruise through now, because at 11:59pm Sunday night it’s back to drawspan openings at mid-lake.
This would be a good time to remember that WSDOT provides email and text alerts for 520 drawspan openings two hours beforehand. Sign up here to avoid the traffic backups (same rules as last year: no openings from 6:30-10am and 3-7pm Monday-Friday) or risk hanging out on the bridge for up to half an hour.
Enjoy the weekend!
Update: WSDOT’s original press release has been corrected to say the Montlake Bridge will close at 10am, just as the crew races begin.
Image: WSDOT Flickr stream
The second cycle of pontoons for the new 520 Bridge floated out of the casting basin in Aberdeen early this morning, complete with additional post-tensioning to avoid the cracks that plagued the first cycle last year. “We have now constructed 24 out of the 77 bridge pontoons we need for the new floating bridge,” said Julie Meredith, SR 520 program director. The pontoons will be moored in Grays Harbor for inspections before being towed to Lake Washington when needed.
Despite the progress, it is not clear when the new bridge will be done. Ambitious hope for an early opening in 2014 ended with the Gregoire Governorship. WSDOT’s construction contract with Kiewit General requires a July 2015 completion, yet fixes to the first set of pontoons and additional structure for those remaining are adding unknown cost and time to the project.
WSDOT is in negotiations with its contractors for pontoon issues encountered in spring 2012 and has not made an official determination on any potential schedule effects.
Another cloud of uncertainty hangs over 520 due to the legislature’s failure to pass a transportation budget before the end of session yesterday. That work will be left for a special session, likely to begin in mid-May. Lawmakers will have to decide to press ahead with the piecemeal West Approach Bridge North, scheduled for June 2014, or wait until full funding is secured to complete the Seattle-side of 520. Seeing how an aggressive schedule has so far cost the state $100 million in avoidable mistakes — and the likelihood of a public vote to fill the $1.4 billion funding gap — there’s good reason to think a pause is in order.
The Landmarks Preservation Board considers Montlake Elementary School. Image: Montlaker
Montlake Elementary School had its nomination hearing Wednesday with the Landmarks Preservation Board. By a unanimous vote, the board approved the nomination, advancing the school to the next step — the all important designation hearing to be held in June.
During discussion, board members expressed appreciation for the school’s architectural details, architect Floyd Narramore’s substantial contribution to Seattle schools and the building’s stately prominence in the neighborhood. However, a few board members expressed only tepid support, signaling that while they approved of the nomination, they may not support designation.
It is significant that this nomination is community driven. The nomination report was submitted and presented by BOLA Architecture and Planning, funded by the Montlake Community Club. A representative from Seattle Schools testified to the board that the District had no formal position on the building’s landmark status. In this case, at least the property owner doesn’t oppose designation (as is often the case).
Given Seattle’s long history of neighborhood character, identity and naming being tied to its public elementary schools, Montlake’s 1924 school building stands a good chance with the Board, even with a few hints of less than full support. A simple majority vote is needed for landmark designation.
If you heard police sirens Thursday night, here’s why (via SPD Blotter):
Two robbery suspects are now in custody following armed robberies last night in the Central District and Montlake neighborhoods.
Last night, at 9:50 pm, a woman was robbed at gunpoint while she was walking in the 1700 Block of 24th Avenue. According to the victim, the suspects, described as two black males, approached her and took her purse before fleeing northbound on foot. The victim was not injured and was able to call 911.
About 15 minutes later, 911 received a call regarding two suspicious black males in front of a residence in the 300 Block of 22nd Avenue East. The suspects matched the description of the earlier incident. Officers responded along with a K-9 team and conducted a search, but did not locate the suspects.
While officers were investigating the two incidents, a second armed robbery occurred at Boyer Avenue East and East Edgar Street at around 10:30 pm. A woman was approached by two black males and robbed of her wallet and cell phone at gunpoint. The victim was not injured. She did tell officers that at least one of the suspects was riding a bicycle. Again, the suspects left northbound.
Realizing that the suspects were generally headed in a northbound direction, several East Precinct officers headed up to the University District to search for them. About 10 minutes after the Boyer robbery, an officer saw two black males riding bicycles in the area of 42nd Avenue and Roosevelt. Both suspects matched the physical description provided in the earlier robberies. The two suspects were stopped and identified. One suspect had a BB gun in his waistband and the other admitted that he had a BB gun in his backpack.
The suspects were detained while the victims were brought by and they positively identified both males as the correct suspects. Both suspects were then arrested. During a search of the suspects, the victim’s stolen property was recovered. Officers were also able to recover the victim’s purse from some nearby bushes.
The suspects, ages 18 and 16, were interviewed by Robbery Unit detectives. Following the interview, the 18 year old suspect was booked into the King County Jail for Investigation of Robbery and the juvenile suspect was booked into the Youth Services Center for the same charge. Robbery detectives will be responsible for the follow up investigation.
Montlake resident Da-Kadu Brown celebrated the release of Mackelmore and Ryan Lewis’s ‘Can’t Hold Us’ video this week, and let go of a secret he’s been keeping since filming in February at the Big Four Ice Caves in the Cascades: It is he who is standard bearer of The Heist. Da-Kadu stars in the snowy opening scene, handing off a folded Heist flag to a be-wolfed Ben Haggerty, aka Mackelmore, who then journeys with it through fantastic scenes of Seattle and the Northwest. Like My Oh My — a beautiful ode to the city.
Congrats Da-Kadu! The video is worth the wait to stream in HD.
There’s a new community group in town. Montlake Family Fitness is a group of neighbors working to add an outdoor sport court to the renovation of the playground at Montlake Community Center this fall. Organizers are looking to raise $5,000 to put toward a larger city grant application to fund the court in full.
Montlake Family Fitness is a group of Montlake neighbors that joined to bring community approved sports and fitness elements to Montlake playground. These elements were approved during the public process for the Montlake Playground Renovation slated to start construction in the Fall of 2013. However, designated project money could not fund the new elements that community members want. Montlake Family Fitness was created to help see these elements added.
We estimate the project cost at $178K. This group is currently applying for the Large Neighborhood Match Grant for the entire project as well as the King County Youth Sport Facilities Matching Grant for a portion of the project. Community donations and volunteer hours are also needed to help fund the project as well as being requirements for matching grants.
The proposed court would be placed between the playground and west end of the track and would not include lights. Repeat: the court would not include lights. Pickle ball anyone?
This project will bring community approved sports and fitness elements to the Montlake Community Center playground. The goal of this project is to dovetail with the 2008 Levy funded Montlake Community Center Playground Renovation. To conserve resources and limit disruption to the neighborhood, we are coordinating with Parks and Recreation Department (Parks) and plan to add the multi-use sport court and adult fitness equipment simultaneously with the Parks scheduled playground renovation in the Fall of 2013.
A portion of the field to the north of the playground will be graded and drained. The ground will then be poured, surfaced, and painted to accommodate multiple sports such as basketball, volley ball, pickle ball, and badminton. Stanchions will be placed at either end of the court for basketball, and mounts will be placed at mid-court for posts to accommodate the net sports.
A concrete pad will be added along side of the playground. Approximately 4 – 6 pieces of fitness equipment will be added to the concrete pad. The position of this fitness equipment adds a benefit for families visiting the park together as parents can workout while watching their children on the playground.
Image: WSDOT Flickr stream
The 520 Bridge will close for weekend construction tonight at 11pm and reopen Monday, April 22nd at 5am. Prepare to take the long route across I-90 if heading to or from the Eastside this weekend. The highway will be closed from Montlake Blvd to I-405.
During the closure, crews will also install new roadway lighting and drainage near 84th Avenue Northeast and begin paving the final Evergreen Point Road roadway across the new lid. The work is weather-dependent and could be delayed in the event of inclement weather. We will keep the public informed if the closure needs to be postponed.
And news for boaters:
Boaters, set your sails: SR 520 east navigation channel will be open May 2-5 for Opening Day weekend
Opening Day of boating season is right around the corner on May 4. Boaters are encouraged to be aware of the latest conditions on Lake Washington related to SR 520 floating bridge construction. Crews are constructing the new bridge, and 11 pontoons are currently on the lake along with cofferdams, barges and other equipment.
Since spring 2012, the east navigation channel near Medina has remained closed to traffic for construction, meaning vessels over 45 feet in height must use the center drawspan to navigate through the bridge.
However, there are several 2013 boating season special dates when the east navigation channel will be open to boaters:
- May 2 to May 5 (Opening Day of Boating Season weekend)
- May 24 to May 26 (Memorial Day weekend)
- July 4 (Independence Day)
- Aug. 1 to Aug. 4 (Seafair weekend)
- Aug. 30 to Sept. 1 (Labor Day weekend)
Also, expect more pontoons to arrive from Aberdeen soon. Another float out is expected next week — this time with water tight concrete — we hope.
Existing + WABN phase + full 520 Replacement. Image: WSDOT
Publicola reports that an amendment to the House Transportation Bill, sponsored by Rep. Jamie Pedersen and supported by Seattle’s delegation of legislative leaders, would require full funding for the Seattle portion of the S.R. 520 Replacement and HOV Program before construction can begin.
In a reverse of the infamous “stick it to Seattle” clause in the state legislation authorizing the waterfront tunnel, the state house passed its $8.4 billion transportation budget this morning with an amendment sponsored by Rep. Jamie Pederson [sic] (D-43, Capitol Hill) that prevents construction of the western portion of the 520 bridge unless the budget includes money to fully fund the west side of the new bridge in Seattle.
Pedersen’s Seattle amendment says, in part, that:
the Washington state department of transportation shall not engage in or contract for any construction on any portion of state route number 520 between Interstate 5 and the western landing of the floating bridge until the legislature has authorized the imposition of tolls on the Interstate 90 floating bridge and/or otherfunding sufficient to complete construction of the state route number 520 bridge replacement and HOV program..
This is good news for Seattle, but it also provides a political nudge to the senate to sign off on tolling I-90, a controversial, but likely key, source of funding for the project.
“Good news for Seattle” is major news for Montlake and Madison Park. ”The purpose of the amendment is to delay any construction west of Madison Park (including WABN) until the earlier of July 1, 2015 or approval by the legislature of a plan for full funding of the entire west section of the 520 project,” said Rep. Pedersen this afternoon. Should the amendment survive this legislative session, the currently planned West Approach Bridge North phase of construction would not begin as planned in June 2014.
The amendment calls for the “least amount of construction” to connect the new floating bridge now under construction to the existing West Approach:
.. the “western landing of the floating bridge” means the least amount of new construction necessary to connect the new floating bridge to the existing state route number 520 and anchor the west end of the new floating bridge.
Going forward, WSDOT could scale back the 6-lane WABN plan to merge into 4-lanes at the “western landing” rather than at the Montlake mainland. The disruptive construction through Union Bay, Foster Island and the Arboretum would be put off until the full corridor was designed, funded and shovel ready.
The amendment also gives WSDOT chance to pause and recover from the costly design errors that have plagued the floating bridge section. With an expert review of the project due later this year and a new Transportation Secretary getting established, halting the aggressive construction schedule makes good fiscal sense — especially as Mercer Island, Eastside and freight interests gather support against tolling Interstate 90.
From the King County Prosecutor’s office:
Vehicular Homicide Charge Filed in SR-520 Collision: Michael Anthony Robertson was charged this afternoon with Vehicular Homicide for a collision on SR-520 near Montlake that killed a woman who was driving to work yesterday morning. The defendant is accused of being under the influence alcohol and going the wrong way on SR-520 before colliding with a car driven by Morgan Williams, 58. If convicted as charged, the sentence range is 78 to 102 months in prison. Robertson, 25, will be booked into the King County Jail after he is released from the hospital. Bail has been set at $1 million. Last year, the Washington State Legislature approved a bill that doubled the standard range for vehicular homicide (DUI), making it equal to a sentence for manslaughter in the first degree. Robertson will be arraigned on April 18 at 8:30 a.m. in courtroom 1201 at the King County Courthouse.
From King County Superior Court charging documents:
…fixing the bail of the defendant in the amount of $1,000,000.
He entered the 520 bridge from Seattle to drive eastbound toward Bellevue, but U-turned and began accelerating the wrong-way back toward Seattle.
The defendant came around the corner and slammed into her car with a closing speed of approximately 100mph under the Montlake Street overpass. Both cars slid westbound and came to rest just west of the overpass.
The defendant was trapped in his car with a broken ankle. He kept trying to exit the car and “go home.”
An open, nearly empty bottle of whiskey was in his front seat.
The rest of the details here.
This post has been corrected: “closing speed” refers to the speed at which the two vehicles approached each other at impact.