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April 14, 2016

The floating bridge opening has been a long time coming

  • A firm looks back over almost two decades of consulting work, and looks ahead to what’s still left to do.



    Nearly 20 years! That is how long the State Route 520 project has been significant to Parametrix.

    Our roles have been diverse and evolving, but through several contracts, beginning with the original Trans-Lake Washington Study, Parametrix has been instrumental in the development of the SR 520 Bridge Replacement and HOV Program.

    In 1998, the Washington State Department of Transportation chose Parametrix to lead the legislatively mandated study of the long-range mobility and environmental issues involved in travel across and around Lake Washington. For the next few years, we helped the state analyze a wide variety of options for crossing Lake Washington, including new bridge crossings, expanding existing bridge facilities, and major improvements around the north end of the lake.

    More than 100 alternatives were considered and analyzed, resulting in four build options and a no-build option to be studied further through the environmental process. Alternatives involved transit and non-motorized facilities improvements, as the state was committed to making significant improvements to reconnect communities that might have been disrupted in the past.

    This initial Trans-Lake Study helped decision-makers representing 47 different entity stakeholders envision how the Evergreen Point Floating Bridge, and movement throughout the Seattle metropolitan area, could be enhanced.

    Wide-ranging work

    In 2003, WSDOT tasked Parametrix with providing program management services to advance the strategic planning of the SR 520 Bridge Replacement and HOV Program.

    Over the next several years, Parametrix continued as the lead firm in a partnership with several other firms to complete the preliminary engineering and environmental impact statement for the program of improvements on SR 520 between Redmond and Interstate 5. Preliminary engineering included extensive work associated with the addition of HOV lanes and significantly wider shoulders in the corridor, as well as conceptual design for lids over the highway on the east and west sides of the lake, and associated bridges across Portage Bay and the Montlake Cut.

    As the lead environmental consultant, Parametrix also led the preparation of environmental documentation and permit applications, coordinating with WSDOT’s contractors, tribes, and local, state and federal agencies. This included the 2006 EIS for the overall project and preparation of EISs for the pontoon construction and I-5-to-Medina projects (completed in 2011 and 2012, respectively), and the environmental assessment for the Medina-to-SR 202 Eastside Transit and HOV project (completed in 2010).

    Parametrix was also a partner with HDR on the general engineer consultant contract for the SR 520 Program’s design elements. Under that contract, Parametrix has provided support services and expertise in a wide variety of disciplines, such as urban planning, landscape architecture, wetland ecology, construction management, and structural, transportation and civil engineering.

    We also provided survey services to Kiewit Infrastructure West for casting the concrete pontoons that make up the new floating bridge structure.

    One challenge has been to marshal the many disciplines needed for the team to smoothly execute changes in the program. An example is the change of the Pontoon Construction project delivery from design-bid-build to design-build in the midst of preparing the project’s EIS. We were able to simultaneously dovetail the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) process with the design-build delivery method — the first Federal Highway Administration-led project in the U.S. ever to do so.

    We have worked with WSDOT and stakeholders from the beginning to listen to their needs and negotiate solutions to meet those needs.

    What’s ahead

    Today, Parametrix continues to play several integral roles in realizing WSDOT’s SR 520 goals, as the program advances to designing and constructing the remaining segments, from I-5 to the Portage Bay Bridge and the Montlake Interchange.

    Completion of the entire corridor is still years away, but it was exciting to be a part of the recent milestone celebrating the grand opening of the floating bridge across the lake. We look forward to continuing to provide creative solutions, potentially a 10th and Delmar lid, a second bascule bridge over the Montlake Cut, and other features that will continue to reshape motorized and non-motorized travel across this critically-important area rich with history, natural resources, and community participation.

    Jeff Peacock is the president and CEO of Parametrix. Cameron Teller is project planning and controls manager at Parametrix.

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