SR 520 - Montlake Project

Project overview

The next phase of construction for the SR 520 Program is the Montlake Project. This is the first stage of construction for all remaining SR 520 improvements in Seattle – what we call the “Rest of the West.”

Project news

  • We hosted a public meeting on Wednesday, Nov. 7, to share information about the status of our pending acquisition of the property where the Montlake Boulevard Market and 76 gas station are located. If you missed the event, you can view a replay of the meeting on YouTube and view the meeting’s presentation slides on Flickr.
  • We announced Oct. 10 that Graham Contracting Ltd. submitted the contract proposal with the apparent best value for the upcoming Montlake Project. Read more about it in our news release.

Needs & benefits

SR 520’s 1960s-era west approach bridge, supported by hollow columns, is at risk of failure in a severe earthquake. In addition, the highway’s old, four-lane segment in Seattle is typically at capacity during peak periods. Now that we’ve completed reconstruction of the highway’s Eastside segment and replaced the old floating bridge, we are moving forward to complete the remaining SR 520 safety and mobility improvements from Lake Washington to I-5.

The end result

  • A new, seismically stronger West Approach Bridge South, parallel to the completed West Approach Bridge North, to carry three lanes of eastbound traffic past Montlake Boulevard East to the new floating bridge
  • A community-connecting highway lid and transit hub at Montlake Boulevard East
  • A rebuilt SR 520 / Montlake Boulevard East interchange
  • A bicycle-pedestrian “land bridge” over SR 520, east of the Montlake lid, connecting the Arboretum and points northward, including the University District

Montlake Project improvements in the Montlake area

map showing SR 520 improvements in Montlake area

View a larger image (pdf 690 kb)

Project benefits

  • A safer highway for motorists and transit riders by replacing the old, structurally vulnerable west approach bridge
  • Improved regional mobility from the addition of transit/HOV lanes across Lake Washington, direct-access ramps for buses and carpools to and from a regional transit hub on the Montlake lid, and added lane capacity at the Montlake Boulevard East interchange
  • More nonmotorized-travel options from a new north-south bicycle and pedestrian land bridge over SR 520, connecting Arboretum trails with local and regional bicycle/pedestrian routes in Montlake and the University District
  • New community open space and trail connections from construction of a landscaped Montlake lid
  • Fewer traffic backups thanks to wider highway shoulders that allow disabled vehicles to pull over without blocking traffic
  • A cleaner, healthier environment from the creation of treatment systems for SR 520 stormwater runoff

Learn more about the next phase of SR 520 construction in Seattle

More than 250 people attended our April 2018 open house in Montlake to learn more about this next phase of SR 520 construction in Seattle. You'll find all of the open house's informational boards in our Resource Library.

Construction contract status

In October 2018 we expect to select a prime contractor for the Montlake Project. We'll base our selection on the contract proposal containing the apparent best value for the project. One requirement of the contract is for the contractor to develop a Community Construction Management Plan. This plan spells out contractor practices and strategies for avoiding or minimizing the effects of SR 520 construction in the Montlake area or, when the effects are unavoidable, for mitigating them. The plan also provides the public an ongoing opportunity to give input on our construction practices. In addition, we'll launch a new set of webpages called the "Construction Corner" for sharing up-to-date information on project activities and impacts, and receiving public feedback. We'll also conduct more public outreach, including a Montlake Project open house, once a new contractor is on board.

Montlake Boulevard Market property-acquisition update

WSDOT has been working since 2016 to acquire the property where the Montlake Market and 76 gas station are located. The property is needed to construct various permanent project improvements for the SR 520 reconstruction program. On April 30, 2018, the state Court of Appeals affirmed a Sept. 6, 2017, King County Superior Court ruling that the property is needed for public use and that WSDOT may proceed to acquire the property from the owners. In August the Court of Appeals' ruling was appealed to the Washington Supreme Court. On Oct. 2, the Supreme Court declined to hear the case, upholding the lower courts' decisions. Meanwhile, we are working with the property's tenants to relocate their businesses, including four wireless-service providers currently operating on the property.

WSDOT is also continuing to address a provision in the state Legislature’s 2018 supplemental transportation budget (Engrossed Substitute Senate Bill 6106) regarding the Montlake Market. The proviso states: 

“The legislature recognizes the department [WSDOT] must acquire the entirety of parcel number 1-23190 for construction of the project. The department shall work with its design-build contractor to ensure to the maximum extent practicable that the building housing any grocery store or market currently located on parcel number 1-23190 will be preserved. The legislature recognizes the city of Seattle has requirements in the project area that the department must address and that those requirements may affect the use of parcel number 1-23190 and may affect the ability of the department to preserve any grocery store or market currently located on the property. The department shall meet and confer regularly with residents in the vicinity of the parcel regarding the status of the project and its effects on any grocery store or market currently located on the property. The legislature strongly encourages the city to utilize maximum flexibility in how the department meets the city’s requirements and to be an equal partner in efforts to preserve any grocery store or market on parcel number 1-23190.” 

In the meantime, we've also been working to review engineering and regulatory requirements for the Montlake Project that have a direct effect on the Montlake Market building. At this time, we have not found a way to build the project and preserve the market building. However, after WSDOT selects a Montlake Project contractor later this year, we will work with the contractor to evaluate potential options that may allow preservation of the Montlake Market building. 

Environmental re-evaluation of Montlake Market removal 

In October 2016, we completed a National Environmental Policy Act re-evaluation regarding design refinements (pdf 3.5mb) to the West Approach Bridge South and Montlake lid. In July 2018, we completed a NEPA re-evaluation of the environmental effects of removing the market building. The July 2018 re-evaluation (pdf 1mb) included an analysis of the neighborhood traffic, community, noise and environmental effects if the Montlake Boulevard Market were closed and the building removed.

Relocation of wireless-communications structure

A company named Crown Castle currently operates a wireless-communications structure – called a “monopole” – on the Montlake Market property. The pole serves two wireless carriers. There are also two facilities on the roof of the market that serve two additional wireless carriers. In order to maintain emergency 911 service and uninterrupted cell phone service for the Montlake area, Crown Castle is working with WSDOT to remove its wireless equipment from the Montlake Market property and erect a new, temporary wireless structure on the nearby WSDOT Peninsula. The new pole will be able to accommodate all four wireless-service providers (AT&T, Sprint, T-Mobile and Verizon) that currently use the Montlake Market property. 

Regardless of whether the Montlake Market building can be preserved, the existing wireless communication facilities located on the property need to be removed due to safety concerns, access restrictions and maintenance needs during SR 520 construction activities. 

Crown Castle is proposing that the new, temporary structure’s design resemble a tree to better blend into the surrounding area. The new pole is expected to be at the WSDOT Peninsula location through the completion of SR 520 construction, at which point, we'll work with Crown Castle to relocate its pole to a permanent location. If you have additional questions, please read our Q&A document (pdf 185 kb).

Traffic management plan for the Montlake area

WSDOT and the city of Seattle collaboratively developed the Montlake Project final Neighborhood Traffic Management Plan (pdf 4.3 mb) to catalog neighborhood traffic concerns and identify strategies for limiting traffic disruptions in the Montlake area during SR 520 construction. The plan includes a refined list of traffic-calming measures for the Montlake area, as well as a summary of public feedback and an overview of other city projects in the vicinity.

More Montlake Project information

  • We receive a lot of questions about what's ahead for SR 520 reconstruction in Seattle. Read our FAQs (pdf 123 kb) to learn the latest.
  • The city of Seattle granted us a noise variance last April for the upcoming Montlake Project. More information on the variance (document #3030792) is available on the city of Seattle's website. You also can read our Q&A (pdf 539 kb) on the variance.

Project design

Our website’s planning-documents webpage contains extensive information about the Seattle Community Design Process and other project-design initiatives and reports. There will be more design work for future Rest of the West projects, with additional opportunities for public comment.

Montlake Project design renderings

Artistic rendering of a Montlake lid transit hub

Artistic rendering of a Montlake lid transit hub.

Artistic rendering of an SR 520 land bridge in Montlake

Artistic rendering of an SR 520 bicycle/pedestrian land bridge in Montlake.

Timeline

  • Fall 2018: Select contractor
  • Late 2018/early 2019: Host public preconstruction open house 
  • Early 2019: Begin construction
  • 2023-2024: Complete project construction

Temporary traffic shift

To enable the removal of the old west approach bridge over Union Bay and the construction of a new west approach bridge for eastbound traffic, we will shift all SR 520 traffic onto the West Approach Bridge North during Montlake Project construction.

map of Montlake Project traffic shift during construction

View larger image (pdf 659 kb)

Funding

This project, with an estimated cost of approximately $400 million, is part of the remaining $1.6 billion in SR 520 improvements from Lake Washington to I-5 – the “Rest of the West.” These improvements are funded by the 2015 Connecting Washington transportation legislation. For more information on SR 520 funding, visit the Budget and Performance page.

A commitment to fair contracting

WSDOT is committed to meeting the governor's voluntary goal of providing 26 percent of the contract value for Connecting Washington transportation projects – including the SR 520 Montlake Project – to minority-owned, women-owned, veteran-owned and disadvantaged small businesses. Learn more about the SR 520 Diversity and Inclusion Program.

Contact

Here are some resources you can use to stay informed about this project:

If your organization is interested in receiving a project briefing or presentation, please contact us.