Seattle celebrates construction of world's longest floating bridge

VIDEO: Crowds turn out for new SR 520 bridge celebration

SEATTLE — A celebration for the completion of the new SR 520 bridge, the world’s longest floating bridge, is happening this weekend in Seattle, though it won't be open to traffic for a few weeks.

#520GO #LIVE >> New SR 520 bridge in Seattle dedicated with celebration. Will be longest floating bridge in the world.[Read >> kiro.tv/FloatingBridge] [Photos >> kiro.tv/520BridgePics]

Posted by KIRO 7 News on Saturday, April 2, 2016
Content Continues Below

The existing SR 520 bridge was closed to traffic from Friday, April 1 at 11 p.m. through Sunday, April 3, at 1:30 p.m. The usual detour routes were available during the closure, including the I-90 floating bridge, SR 522, and I-405.

Traffic officials say the old 520 bridge will be closed to traffic this upcoming weekend, as westbound traffic shifts onto the new bridge.

More than a decade of planning and five years of construction went into the completion of the bridge.

%

INLINE

%

A 10k run was held on Saturday morning, with a run starting at 7:30 a.m. at Husky Stadium.

Chopper 7 was overhead as more than 13,000 runners ignored the foggy, chilly start to the day to run from the University of Washington to the bridge, then back again.

But the festivities were just getting started.

KIRO 7 news anchor Monique Ming Laven led off the official opening of the bridge with the pronouncement, "Welcome to the grand-opening ceremonies for the world's longest floating bridge."

Alongside her were several local, state and federal dignitaries, including the state's governor.

"We do big things," Gov. Jay Inslee told the crowd on the bridge. "We do hard things. And we do things that work. And this bridge is a monument to that belief system."

Foot traffic was the first to cross the new bridge.

A free shuttle will be operating from 10 a.m. through 5 p.m. to the new bridge from four shuttle stops surrounding Lake Washington.

On Saturday afternoon, event-goers were reporting lengthy travel times leaving the bridge. The event was at capacity at around 2:30 p.m. Shuttles were working to transport the large crowd.

By 3:30 p.m., inbound shuttles to the SR 520 event were done for the day. All shuttles were being used to help transport people away from the bridge.

%

INLINE

%

A presentation from Guinness World Records certified the bridge as the world's longest floating highway.

For more information on the celebration, click here.

The new 520 bridge is nearly twice as wide as the old one. It will have a shoulder for drivers and will better withstand high wind events.

The new westbound lanes of the 520 bridge won't open to traffic until April 11. April 25 is when eastbound lanes will open.

"After over a half century of use, the existing floating bridge is showing its age," write WSDOT officials over the project's information page. "The bridge's pontoons have become vulnerable to windstorms and its support columns are vulnerable to earthquakes."

Watch a virtual tour of the new floating bridge below.

Project timeline [read details here] from WSDOT >>
  • Late 2011 - Began pontoon construction in Tacoma.
  • Early 2012 - Began anchor construction in Kenmore.
  • Spring 2012 - Began bridge construction on eastern shore of Lake Washington.
  • Spring 2016 - Anticipated date to open new floating bridge to drivers.
  • Late 2016 - Anticipated date for removal of the existing floating bridge.