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New SR 520 bridge wins national engineering award

It’s a pretty great first birthday present


What a great birthday present for the 520 bridge: Tuesday night, the American Council of Engineering Companies (ACEC) awarded the project its annual Grand Conceptor Award, beating out 162 projects worldwide.

In a statement, Washington Secretary of Transportation Roger Millar called it “one of the great engineering feats of our time.”

Washington State Department of Transportation (WSDOT) themselves might be a little biased, but the bridge is a pretty big deal: The floating bridge, which opened a year ago on Tuesday, is the longest floating stretch of highway in the world, at 7,708 feet.

Lake Washington is both wide and deep and full of soft sediments, making an incredibly long floating bridge the only option. The old bridge, just 130 feet shorter, was still a major feat, especially for 1963, but lacked options for carless travel.

The new bridge’s sheer length, plus its bike and pedestrian routes and capacity for light rail, led to Wired naming the project one of the seven most majestic infrastructure projects of the year.

If you’re into listening to WSDOT toot their own horn about the bridge, they released a mini-documentary about the bridge for its birthday. Highlights: Vintage photos of the old bridge, stories of pontoon transport, cute kids learning stuff about engineering.