2020: A year in review for the SR 520 Program

A green banner that reads S R 520 Bridge Replacement and HOV Program 2020 Year in Review

In this update:

Message from the administrators

A man smiles at the camera

Greetings. This is Omar Jepperson, administrator of the SR 520 Bridge Replacement and HOV Program, and Dawn Yankauskas, deputy administrator. If you’re like us, you learned a lot in 2020 – and endured a lot too. It was a tough year. We continue to be awed by the resiliency of our staff and crews, and by the commitment from our stakeholders and neighbors to stay engaged.

Despite all the stresses and challenges the pandemic created, we made a lot of progress in 2020 on the SR 520 Program. Even as we paused construction for 11 weeks last spring because of the COVID-19 outbreak, we advanced the planning and design of the SR 520/I-5 Express Lanes Connection Project and the Portage Bay Bridge and Roanoke Lid Project. We also continued our contractor outreach program to promote inclusive contracting opportunities on SR 520 for minority-, veteran-, and women-owned small businesses. And once effective safety protocols were established under Gov. Inslee’s “Stay Home, Stay Healthy” directive, we restarted our Montlake Project construction in a way that protects our crews and the public. 

A woman smiles at the camera

The Washington State Department of Transportation is experiencing a significant drop in expected transportation revenues because of the pandemic. We continue to work with the Governor’s Office to determine how this may affect WSDOT’s budget. One recent action was the Office of Financial Management’s (OFM) directive that WSDOT delay projects scheduled to be advertised for contractor bids until the Governor and Legislature agree on a plan for the 2021-2023 transportation budget. Specifically, this applies to capital expansion construction projects, including the I-5 Express Lanes Connection Project. WSDOT projects already in construction, including the Montlake Project, are not affected by the OFM order, and work proceeds as planned.

Making changes to our budget requires action by the Legislature, and depending on what happens in the 2021 legislative session, we could see other changes in our WSDOT project schedules and completion dates. We will keep you informed as we learn more about the schedule for upcoming SR 520 projects.

Thank you for your continued interest in the SR 520 Program and your patience as we work to replace vulnerable structures and deliver the safety and mobility benefits of an improved, multimodal highway corridor.

Below are more project highlights from 2020 along with a peek at what’s in store for the year ahead. Please let us know if you have any questions.

Here’s to a brighter 2021 for you and yours!

Take care,

A signature of the name Omar Jepperson.

Administrator, SR 520 Bridge Replacement and HOV Program

A signature of the name Dawn Yankauskas

Deputy Administrator, SR 520 Bridge Replacement and HOV Program

SR 520 Milestones in 2020

Left, a cyclist rides on a trail under a bridge. On the right, the S R 520 floating bridge sentinels shine red at night over Lake Washington.

Left: A cyclist rides on the new, temporary trail under SR 520 in Montlake. Right: The SR 520 sentinels shine red in honor of frontline workers.


  • After an extensive public engagement process in 2019, the SR 520 team publishes a report (pdf 2 mb) summarizing the public's feedback and ideas for the design of the future Portage Bay Bridge and Roanoke Lid Project.


  • A new, temporary trail opens March 9 under SR 520 between Lake Washington Boulevard and East Montlake Park for bicyclists and pedestrians.
  • Montlake Project crews temporarily suspend construction due to the COVID-19 outbreak, in accordance with Gov. Inslee's March 26 executive order.
  • SR 520 Information Center in Montlake closes due to COVID-19 and the SR 520 team begins conducting all public meetings virtually.


  • The SR 520 floating bridge sentinels shine red throughout the month of April in honor of frontline workers.
  • Monthly Montlake Project construction-update meetings continue – virtually – to keep neighbors informed.
  • SR 520 staff continue work on permits, agreements and designs of project improvements needed to prepare for a planned, but currently paused, 2021 construction start of the SR 520/I-5 Express Lanes Connection Project and a planned 2023 construction start of the Portage Bay Bridge and Roanoke Lid Project.
On the left, a construction work zone in a closed highway with a cement wall on the right. On the right, an aerial view of a bridge over water.

Left: Looking east from Montlake Boulevard, the center support wall for a future SR 520 freeway lid in Montlake nears completion. Right: Aerial view of the existing Portage Bay Bridge, looking west toward I-5.


  • SR 520 team conducts COVID-19 safety trainings with all Program staff and contractor crews to prepare for the restart of construction in the field.


  • Major Montlake Project construction activities resume June 8 with new field safety protocols in place to protect workers from COVID-19.


  • Crews complete the first phase of the central support wall in the median of SR 520 for the future Montlake lid and shift traffic lanes, opening space to work on the outer support walls.


  • SR 520 team hosts an online open house and public comment period regarding key environmental processes for the upcoming Portage Bay Bridge and Roanoke Lid Project.
On the left, two people order food from a food truck. On the right, two lawn chairs above a grassy lawn overlooking water.

Left: A Burb's Burgers food truck provides daily service in Montlake on the site of the former Montlake Market. Right: The new Fritz Hedges Waterway Park on Portage Bay.


  • Burb's Burgers food truck opens on the former Montlake Market property.
  • Fritz Hedges Waterway Park, built with SR 520 mitigation funds, opens on Portage Bay.


Colorful mesh screening along a fence with the word Montlake repeated on each screening panel.

New screening installed around the former Montlake Market property.


  • In response to neighborhood feedback about excessive graffiti throughout the area, crews install new, colorful screening around the former Montlake Market property.
  • Crews finish installing a 54-inch-diameter city water line beneath SR 520 just east of Montlake Boulevard.
  • WSDOT and the Montlake Project prime contractor, Graham, hold a two-week online open house to provide the public the latest project design refinements and construction updates. The team also holds virtual meetings with frontline residents in Montlake to provide project updates.
  • Montlake Project crews complete the first phase of the south concrete wall (along Lake Washington Boulevard) that will support a future freeway lid over SR 520 in Montlake.
  • WSDOT nears completion of the design and contract documents for the currently paused SR 520/I-5 Express Lanes Connection Project. This follows extensive coordination and review with the city of Seattle to secure all necessary permits and agreements for the project.

2020 by the numbers

Three cartoon images. Left, a crane hoists a pipe. Center, a cement truck on a cement panel. Right, a person answers a telephone next to a computer.
  • gantry cranes (each 69 feet tall) assembled by Montlake Project crews for removal and replacement of the old eastbound bridge. Watch our video to see the assembly process.
  • 3,670 cubic yards of concrete placed as part of Montlake Project construction.
  • 1,061 responses from WSDOT to community comments and questions.
Cartoon images. Left, a mechanical hammer over a steel pipe. Center, a truck hauls rubbles. Right, people's faces on a computer screen.
  • 490 piles driven for temporary work bridges in Union Bay.
  • 18,000 tons of concrete removed from the old SR 520 bridge.
  • 6,635 attendees at virtual SR 520 public meetings.

What's ahead for SR 520 in 2021 and beyond

A map of S R 520 in Seattle with four boxes outlined in various colors and labeled with project titles.

Map of current and upcoming SR 520 projects. Click on the image above for an enlarged image.

2021 promises to be another big year for the SR 520 Program:

  • Montlake Project construction: We will continue building a new eastbound SR 520 bridge from Montlake to the floating bridge, while removing the rest of the old, 1960s-era structure over Union Bay. Crews will install girders over the highway to support a new Montlake lid, and begin removing contaminated soil from the site previously occupied by the Montlake Market and 76 gas station.
  • SR 520/I-5 Express Lanes Connection Project: This project creates a new, reversible transit/HOV ramp between SR 520 and the I-5 express lanes. This will improve bus and carpool connections to Mercer Street and Seattle's South Lake Union neighborhood. At the direction of the Office of Financial Management, WSDOT has delayed this project. We’ll have more information on the timing of this project once the Governor and Legislature agree on a plan for the 2021-2023 transportation budget.
  • Portage Bay Bridge and Roanoke Lid Project: We’ll continue our planning, design and community outreach in 2021 as we prepare for the planned 2023 launch of project construction. Key features include replacing the seismically vulnerable Portage Bay Bridge, building a new community-connecting lid in the Roanoke Park neighborhood, extending the SR 520 Trail across Portage Bay, and providing new stormwater treatment systems to treat bridge runoff.

Learn more by visiting our project webpages.

An aerial view of a highway that crosses water into a residential neighborhood. There is a city in the background.

Photo courtesy of Tim Rice

How to reach us and stay informed about SR 520 construction:

  • Call the 24-hour construction hotline (206-775-8885) with pressing Montlake Project questions or concerns.
  • Call the SR 520 Program information line (206-770-3554, M-F 8 a.m. - 5 p.m.) with general SR 520 inquiries.
  • Email SR 520 staff with your questions about the project or construction activities.
  • Visit the SR 520 Construction Corner for the most up-to-date information on closures and construction impacts.
  • Visit the SR 520 Program website to find general information about the project.
  • Follow us on Twitter @wsdot_520 to get key news and updates about the SR 520 program.