SR 520 Bridge Replacement and HOV Program - Public outreach and events

photo from Kirkland farmer's marketThe SR 520 team continually strives to engage and inform the public about the SR 520 program - from project planning and design, to construction progress, to traffic and neighborhood impacts. We have an obligation not just to share accurate, timely information, but to listen to community ideas and concerns.


Our public communications take a variety of forms, including:

  • Holding and attending public and neighborhood meetings;
  • Presenting to community groups;
  • Responding to individual phone and e-mail comments;
  • Attending public festivals and fairs;
  • Updating this website and its content;
  • Coordinating between agencies;
  • Sending regular e-mail updates and responding on social media.

Visit our Contact Us webpage for ways to connect with us online.

Visit our Open Houses and Public Meetings page for information presented at past meetings and events.

Upcoming Public Meetings and Events

  • Nothing scheduled at this time

History of Public Engagement

The effort to replace SR 520 has been underway since 1997. From the beginning, WSDOT has led an extensive public communications effort for the SR 520 Bridge Replacement and HOV Program (previously known as the Trans-Lake Project).

The funded construction program encompasses three distinct projects: the completed Pontoon Construction Project (in Aberdeen, Wash.); the completed Eastside Transit and HOV Project; and the I-5 to Medina Bridge Replacement and HOV Project. The latter takes in the completed SR 520 Bridge Replacement and HOV Project, the completed West Approach Bridge North Project, and all remaining corridor improvements in Seattle from Lake Washington to I-5 (the "Rest of the West"). The latter project, fully funded by the 2015 Legislature, is expected to begin construction in Montlake in 2019. 

Public input early in the process coalesced around several central themes, which WSDOT incorporated into program planning:

  • Keep potential negative effects of the completed project (congestion, noise, air pollution) to a minimum;
  • Monitor and minimize negative impacts on the natural environment;
  • Add bicycle and pedestrian access to the whole SR 520 corridor;
  • Improve and expand HOV and bus access;
  • Design the corridor to accommodate future light rail;
  • Protect the environment and consider local noise and traffic impacts in Grays Harbor.

As the program moved into design and build phases, specific design features that resulted from public, tribal, and agency comments include:

Montlake land bridge rendering

  • Reducing the width of the west approach;
  • Refining the West Approach Bridge North's footprint within the Arboretum;
  • Changing the West Approach Bridge North design, which allowed WSDOT to dramatically reduce the amount of concrete needed and create a more simple, streamlined structure with fewer in-water columns;
  • Removing the Lake Washington Boulevard ramps in the Arboretum;
  • Developing a Community Construction Management Plan in coordination with West Approach Bridge North stakeholders and communities;
  • Including innovative elements and design features to reduce noise and eliminate the need for corridor-wide noise walls;
  • Reducing the width of the replacement Portage Bay Bridge and giving it a "landscaped boulevard" feel.

For these projects WSDOT has developed and implemented the following range of public-engagement efforts:

  • Provided program information at over 500 public events, including open houses, drop-in events, community design workshops, fairs and festivals, and community organization briefings.
  • Communicated with more than 4,600 individuals on a regular basis, and tracked and responded to more than 5,000 comments and inquires received from the public and agencies since 2003.
  • Reached more than 36,000 people at fairs, festivals, and SR 520-hosted events. Coordinated with more than 60 neighborhood associations in Puget Sound and another dozen groups in Grays Harbor.
  • Mass communications, including: media releases and briefings; developing and maintaining web content; providing public comment opportunities for technical documents; writing and issuing regular email updates; developing folios and fact sheets; gathering data and drafting responses to public inquiries; writing and distributing fieldwork notifications; and planning special events such as groundbreakings or other community events.
  • Extensive intergovernmental coordination, including: briefings to jurisdictions and legislative committees; outreach to federal delegation staff; assistance with tribal coordination; assistance with funding proposals; and coordination with regional planning and transit agencies. The SR 520 Program coordinates with multiple state and federal agencies, over a dozen regional, county and city jurisdictions, tribal governments, legislative districts and committees, and the state Transportation Commission.
  • Agency coordination, including: technical review groups responsible for local, state and federal regulations; special projects such as Washington Park Arboretum mitigation planning and Section 106 coordination for historic and cultural properties; coordinating expert panels on topics such as noise mitigation, aquatic resources, or mitigation planning; and permitting assistance at the local, state, and federal levels.
  • Meeting legislative requirements for public outreach, including designing effective public processes, developing opportunities for public feedback, coordinating with technical team members to develop clear and concise public materials, and facilitating technical meetings.
  • Conducting user research and writing or editing technical reports, including examples such as: managing a survey of SR 520 transit users in 2005; providing reader-friendly financial reports; coordinating the development and production of the Catastrophic Failure Plan and the High Capacity Transit Plan; coordinating design and reader-friendly executive summary documents and legislative reports; and providing online feedback opportunities for the public to comment on draft technical reports.

Public Engagement Documents and Reporting

For the SR 520 program, the communications and public involvement work is summarized in public involvement appendices as part of the environmental documentation for the three separate projects. Links to these documents (all PDF):