WSDOT discovers 520 floating bridge has cable damage

by: Monique Ming Laven Updated:


SEATTLE - There are problems with the 520 floating bridge, again.  This time, there's damage to an anchor cable that keeps one of the pontoons in place.  The DOT says there are redundancies in the bridge design, that one cable problem does not make the span dangerous.

GeeGee Scott is unconvinced, "Yeah, that doesn't make me feel comfortable at all."

Her husband had the closest call of his life last month.  He was driving south on I-5 near Mount Vernon, when he pulled over to get gas.  While he was filling up, the Skagit River Bridge collapsed.  Without the trip to the gas station, he may have plunged into the river.

Since then, GeeGee's gotten a little nervous every time she drives from her home on the Eastside to her job in downtown Seattle.  Every time she crosses the bridge -- the 520-- she thinks about her husband's close call.

Now, the Department of Transportation says this anchor cable on the north side of the westernmost pontoon has problems.  Investigators discovered some damage on Tuesday and they will be back again on Thursday.  Divers will go down to better assess the repairs necessary.  No problems are visible to drivers from the bridge, everything's underwater.

But given the recent collapse of the Skagit River Bridge, and how that put the spotlight on the long list of state bridges that need repair, any problem on any bridge makes GeeGee concerned about almost anything. 

"I had nightmares about it after the fact," she says about the Skagit River bridge collapse,” I would drive on the 520 bridge and wonder, what if this happens, what would I do?"  Despite the DOT's assurances, this cable problem taps into her nightmare scenario. "I can swim, but I can't swim that well, so it's scary."

The DOT says it will release pictures of the problem and more information on Thursday after inspectors gather more information.  But, they emphasize they already know that there is no danger to the public.

GeeGee says her head may know she's safe as she drives across, but her nerves won't.

  "You have to go the speed limit, but you really don't want to," she says about the white-knuckle trips ahead. "You'd like to just get it over with!"