City officials Thursday underscored the need to replace the existing 520 floating bridge with one that can safely accommodate future capacity needs, including a high capacity transit system.
"The need to replace the bridge is immediate, but we need to make sure the we don't sacrifice our long term needs to meet short term funding constraints," Bellevue Mayor Grant Degginger said. "That would be penny wise and pound foolish."
Degginger, as well as other regional and local leaders, joined Governor Christine Gregoire at a news conference at Bellevue City Hall, where the governor announced a proposed $4 billion funding package for a new bridge.
Degginger applauded the Governor's leadership in taking action on SR 520, saying the case to replace the bridge was made long ago.
"It's on its last legs," Degginger said. "Those who travel it know it is structurally deficient and that congestion is intolerable."
The mayor noted that SR 520 is a critical component of the Puget Sound transportation network, linking the county's east and west growth centers. The five eastside communities surrounding the bridge – Bellevue, Kirkland, Issaquah, Redmond and Sammamish - generate over a billion dollars in state revenue annually, he said.
Degginger said Bellevue has been working for over a decade to address the need to replace the bridge with a safer, more efficient one that will meet the region's needs for the next 50 to 100 years.
He said the city and other eastside cities are unified in their support to replace the existing bridge with one that has four general purpose lanes, two high-occupancy lanes, bike and pedestrian improvements and expandable pontoons to allow high capacity transit on the bridge in the future without sacrificing safety and existing carrying capacity.
"The devil will be in the details for both the design and the financing package," Degginger said. "We will continue to work with the Governor and Legislature to make sure the bridge design meets the region’s long term needs for mobility, and that potential tolling and other funding mechanisms are equitable."
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