Monday, July 24, 2023

New day, new way in Seattle’s Montlake neighborhood

By Steve Peer

July 24 is a new day for the State Route 520 Montlake lid project as it ushered in a new way for people crossing a new highway lid via Seattle's Montlake Boulevard. Or, perhaps better put by Celine Dion, "A New Day Has Come."

For the past 10 days, crews closed Montlake Boulevard to work on realigning the street. We understand the stress and inconvenience road closures cause, but we have great news to share: Montlake Boulevard is finally getting its act together and straightening out!

This shows the three major changes that evolved after the recent 10-day Montlake Boulevard closure.

Three big changes to Montlake-area streets

The closure resulted in three big changes to the Montlake area. The first is a realignment of Montlake Boulevard that straightens the road for vehicles passing over SR 520. For the past two years this busy urban arterial, just south of the University of Washington, looped to the east so crews could extend the still-under-construction lid to the west.

During the 10-day closure, crews straightened the boulevard to a north-south alignment, making it easier for drivers to smoothly navigate the road. This change also marks an important transition in lid construction by opening room for landscaped greenspace on the future Montlake lid! Stay tuned for updates on the lid's construction and eventual planting of this new community gathering space.

This illustrates the finalized 3-acre Montlake Lid over SR 520 which is expected to open in early 2024.

With the 10-day closure behind us, the second change drivers will notice is a new westbound on-ramp to SR 520 from Montlake Boulevard. In the coming weeks, the new ramp will benefit pedestrians, as the new interchange features clearly defined sidewalk pathways.

There's a great deal more to look forward to for pedestrians and cyclists throughout the summer and fall as the final Montlake configuration creates new ways to navigate the area.

The third change – and the most exciting for those who regularly cross Lake Washington on eastbound SR 520 – is a new eastbound on-ramp from Montlake Boulevard. For the next few weeks, this on-ramp will carry vehicles to the SR 520 floating bridge via the new, 1.2-mile-long bridge we're building across Union Bay. Next month we'll open all three lanes of this new bridge to eastbound traffic. Later this summer, its twin Union Bay bridge to the north (presently carrying two lanes of SR 520 traffic in both directions) will revert to a three-lane, westbound-only bridge.

We thank the community for your patience and understanding during the boulevard's recent 10-day closure. We are pleased to bring this new day to SR 520 travelers and the Montlake neighborhood, but Montlake Project construction closures remain on the horizon until the project wraps up next year. Be prepared for detours and street or highway closures nearly every weekend during this busy summer construction season.

And, in case you haven’t had Celine’s lyrics stuck in your head (or haven't heard this fantastic song), here it is again for your listening pleasure.