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Federal Highway Administrator Nadeau Helps Open New SR 520 Floating Bridge in Seattle

American Government Special Collections Reference Desk

American Government Topics:  Greg Nadeau

Federal Highway Administrator Nadeau Helps Open New SR 520 Floating Bridge in Seattle

Federal Highway Administration
2 April 2016

FHWA 18-16
Tuesday, April 2, 2016
Contact: Nancy Singer
Tel.: (202) 366-0660

SEATTLE – Gregory Nadeau, Federal Highway Administrator for the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Federal Highway Administration, joined state and local officials today to open Seattle’s new SR 520 Bridge, the longest floating bridge in the world. The new bridge serves a key role in the state’s efforts to rebuild one of the Puget Sound region's busiest corridors, improving highway safety and helping relieve congestion. It includes bus and bicycle lanes, as well as pedestrian paths, and is a vital east-west roadway that crosses Lake Washington and connects major employment centers in Seattle with the area’s eastern suburbs in Bellevue and beyond.

“Not only is this bridge an engineering marvel and stronger than its predecessor -- it will also create a stronger community right here in Puget Sound by connecting key economic and population centers,” said U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx. “It is making a difference in the lives of real people by benefitting commuters with improved roadways and bicyclists and pedestrians with new dedicated paths.”

The traffic problems faced by Seattle reaffirm the concerns outlined in the Department’s report Beyond Traffic, which examines the trends and choices facing America's transportation infrastructure over the next three decades, including a rapidly growing population and increasing freight volume. Federal officials expect increased gridlock nationwide unless improvements, like this new bridge, are made in the near-term.

“The new bridge will enhance regional mobility and give the public new and better options for travel,” Administrator Nadeau said. “The improvements will help ensure that residents in the Puget Sound area are connected to jobs, education and other opportunities – and that businesses and freight shippers can move their goods more efficiently.”

The new SR 520 floating bridge, built to modern design standards on pontoons the length of football fields, will serve an estimated 72,000 drivers each day. It will offer more roadway and transit capacity and will replace the current floating bridge built in 1963.

The new six-lane bridge will significantly expand access for all types of commuters with two new transit-HOV lanes (one in each direction) along with wider lanes and additional bicycle and pedestrian pathways.

At 7,710 feet, it is the longest floating bridge in the world, approximately 130 feet longer and more structurally sound than its predecessor. And the new bridge is capable of resisting sustained winds of up to 89 mph.

The bridge is the centerpiece of nearly $3B of work completed and underway in the corridor that relied on a $300 million Transportation Infrastructure Finance Innovation Act loan and $200 million in federal-aid dollars. It is also using about $900 million of Grant Anticipation Revenue Vehicle bonding.”

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