If you drive on 520 you can see that progress is being made, or at least that there is a lot of construction activity. The start of construction was a shock to many people, particularly the removal of the trees necessary to do the work widening and moving the landing in Medina about 200′ north of the current landing.
The caption on the drawing above was written by WSDOT and is part of the controversy referenced below the jump in this post.
Contracts have been let on both the Eastside portion and the floating portion. We still have financing work to do on the Westside portion – the funds are in hand to do the first two portions, so we are moving ahead. The Seattle Times reported that the State Treasurer believes that if the Eyman initiative (I-1125) this year about tolling passes that we will not be able to finance even this part, as the bond market does not respond well to non-standard toll-setting authority. (article here)
The design details of the project as it crosses the Points Communities have been known for a long time and shared with the public many times, but sometimes changes occur as the engineering of the project gets deeper into detail. Typically a project like the bridge that uses the “design-build” contracting method is about 30% designed when the contracts go out. The winner of the bidding finishes the design and the construction. We’ve found that its a LOT cheaper this way, as pointy-headed engineers who don’t have to build the thing don’t make decisions that can be better made closer to the ground. This is true in lots of engineering disciplines and was true at Microsoft as well.
Two controversies have come up very late in the design cycle – the 84th Ave crossing and the 92nd Ave crossing. Some modifications were made at 84th last year, and the 92nd crossing is generating some community concern right now.
The design process here has literally gone on for over a decade, and all the decisions have to be agreed to by all 4 of the affected communities, so there have been a lot of negotiations with lots and lots of people. It is risky and expensive to change designs at the last minute and WSDOT is loathe to do so, particularly once construction has started, though they will try to make reasonable accommodations to what the community wants.
I’ve always felt that my job as a legislator on these kinds of issues is to make sure that WSDOT and the state are responsive to local elected officials, and that’s what I’ve done in this case. I do not know as much about the details of all the issues as the mayors and councils of the four cities do and they worked together for years to get the design as right as possible.
I’ve attached a (short) WSDOT document that details the current issue at 92nd and why a roundabout was chosen. It’s an interesting read and exposes some of the complexities of the decision here.
2011_0805_92nd_Roundabout_factsheet (1.27 MB .pdf file)