Tuesday, June 4, 2019

You spoke. We heard. Change is on the way to the SR 520 trail

By Ben Lennon

We asked, you answered and now change is coming to Seattle's SR 520 Trail across Lake Washington!

You may recall that after some concerns were raised about the steel cover plates on the trail's expansion joints, we installed a prototype plate designed to ease the bumps that some bicycle riders were reporting. We asked if the new plate, designed by our engineers, was an improvement over the previous plates. And, overwhelmingly, the answer was YES!

More than 260 trail users responded to our survey and provided feedback, and 95 percent said the new plates were an improvement.
A close-up view of the cover plate prototype

Late summer installation
We're working with our contractor to replace all of the narrow cover plates on the floating bridge portion of the 520 Trail by late summer. This will require several intermittent trail closures and as we get closer to the replacement work we'll get information out about any disruptions, including on our 520 webpage. We'll do what we can to avoid high-traffic times in the morning and evening.

Many thanks to everyone for taking the time to test out the new plate and provide their feedback. We're excited to have found a solution that works for everyone and we're confident the new cover plate will provide an even smoother trip for those enjoying a bike ride across the SR 520 bridge.
The SR 520 Trail's western entrance is near East Montlake Park, and the trail stretches
across Lake Washington to Bellevue and beyond.


Summer said...


Me said...

Way to go!

Unknown said...

Yes, this is an improvement, driving over the test plate in one direction is great but in the opposite direction, same old bump. Engineers are smart people, why can't they (and why didn't they in the first place?) design a depression in the concrete and insert an expansion joint flush with the path??? My God, they should be embarrassed by this!!! Regular BG users, you know the drill, a root pops up and makes a bump, somebody from the city spray paints it and
after a few years, something might get done. In this case, they built their own roots into the path and pretend to be "shocked, SHOCKED" that riders might have a problem with it. Instead of calling them "cover plates" call them "tree roots" and you will be closer to the truth. Please note, they are only replacing the narrow plates and not the gigantic wide plates that are even more obtrusive and problematic!

RD Pierce said...

Why may I ask, is monies being spent from motor vehicle fuel and license fee’s on something such as this? Is this motor vehicle related?

Brian said...

I'm curious what granularity feedback was requested from users? It is true that the prototype joint is an improvement over the original. But it is still not very good! With such a huge cost for the bridge, the path should've been engineered properly from the beginning. Having these extremely harsh bumps replaced by less-but-still-harsh bumps seems like a waste of money; the issue should be completely resolved so the transition is smooth. The car expansion joints appear to be superior to the bicycle ones!
Every time I use the bridge I feel a sense of disappointment at every joint I cross and that feeling isn't going to go away with these "improved" joints.

RB said...

We could always go back to the original 520 bridge where folks had to outfit their bikes with floats to pedal across. Crowd sourcing this is idiotic. Get on your own bike WSDOT and design a fix that doesn’t rattle your teeth when YOU ride! A bike path is better than no bike path... so glad we all have 1st world problems.

WSDOT said...

Thanks for the feedback. We posted a blog late last year about the engineering challenges with the cover plates. A flush cover plate unfortunately is not feasible (https://wsdotblog.blogspot.com/2018/12/changes-to-new-sr-520-trail-you-decide_12.html).

WSDOT said...

Response to comment #3: Thanks for the feedback. We posted a blog late last year about the engineering challenges with the cover plates. A flush cover plate unfortunately is not feasible (https://wsdotblog.blogspot.com/2018/12/changes-to-new-sr-520-trail-you-decide_12.html).

WSDOT said...

Response to comment #4: Thanks for reaching out. The money comes from legislative budget allocated for SR 520 corridor improvements, maintenance, and repairs, which includes the SR 520 Trail.

WSDOT said...

Response to comment #5: Thanks for your comment. When conducting the survey, we wanted to know from people if we should replace all of the joints with this new plate. We asked people to tell us either A) Yes, this is an improvement and all the narrow plates should be replaced or B) either this isn’t a good enough replacement, or the original plates were fine. Overwhelmingly, the feedback we got was that the joints should be replaced with this prototype. As for the design of the original plates, we published a blog post late last year that outlines some of the engineering challenges for the cover plates (for instance, the roadway doesn’t have the plates, and this is partly because the roadway doesn’t have to meet ADA standards): https://wsdotblog.blogspot.com/2018/12/changes-to-new-sr-520-trail-you-decide_12.html.

Eric said...

Thank you for committing to taking action to help improve the problem.

Echo the same frustration with other commenters on here that this was a problem of your own making, that could have been solved by even the most basic amount of user feedback during the initial design period, and I don't much care for the self-effacing pat-on-the-back spin you're adding to the messaging. This was a miss and is incurring additional cost in rework to achieve a hacky suboptimal solution, simple as that.

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