It’s Time to Move Forward on the Highway 520 Bridge Replacement

Posted by Brad Smith 

General Counsel

Anyone who has traveled from downtown Seattle to Microsoft’s corporate campus likely has encountered one of our region’s unique transportation challenges:  Lake Washington, the large body of water that separates Seattle from Redmond, Bellevue and other heavily-populated Eastside suburbs.520bridge_Congestion_Storm_smaller

Local commuters depend on two floating bridges to get across Lake Washington every day.  One of them, the four-lane Highway 520 floating bridge, is 47 years old and in urgent need of replacement.  State engineers warn that the bridge could sink in a major storm or earthquake.  

Yet more than 5,000 Microsoft employees commute across the 520 bridge daily.  Thousands more local residents use the 520 bridge to reach jobs both downtown and on the Eastside. 

Given the importance of 520 as a transportation and economic corridor, the Washington state legislature three years ago approved a replacement design for the 520 bridge.  An agreed-upon funding plan is in place and contracts are ready to begin building the new bridge pontoons.  Governor Christine Gregoire, state legislators and local leaders have worked hard to bring this important project closer to reality, and we commend them for their efforts.

In the coming weeks the state legislature will make key decisions on whether to keep the project on track.  These include authorizing Eastside construction and establishing a tolling system.  While final design issues must still be sorted out with the City of Seattle about the western configuration of the project, we should not let last-minute objections undermine the hard-won agreements already in place.  

Microsoft has long been an advocate for the timely replacement and expansion of the 520 bridge, and we are part of a broad coalition of civic leaders, labor unions, business organizations and local governments supporting the project.

Given the critical juncture of the 520 bridge replacement, we are working with our partners to urge decisive action now.  We are encouraging our employees and local residents who support the project to contact their local legislators, and we have established a Web site,, where people can learn more.

We believe it’s time to come together as a region and a state and start construction on the new 520 bridge.


Comments (7)

  1. Anonymous says:

    This is a necessity!!  How long will it take to complete once the work is started?

  2. Anonymous says:

    We've already seen what a complete WASTE of billions the current light rail boondoggle has proven to be. How about we scrap the light rail exapnsion plans to WASTE billions more and build the 520 replacement with that instead?

  3. Anonymous says:

    Unfortunately, MS is once again supporting a plan  which is shortsighted and won't solve the problem over the long-term.    What's worse is the current plan doesn't eliminate the bottleneck since you'll be going from 3 lanes/side back to two on the far end.  Unless the entire 520 corridor matches whatever the span's width is, simple physics dictates the problems we currently have won't go away; they'll just move up and down the corridor.    That's why light-rail is an excellent option.  It is a dedicated, scalable solution which not only relieves congestion, but can run in a predictable manner; which is a huge benefit to commuters and businesses alike.  Every major metropolitan area has a light-rail system; but nope… not the Seattle area (the token line from downtown to *almost* the airport is a joke)

  4. Anonymous says:

    We need a new 520 bridge. It is necessity.

  5. Anonymous says:

    What is Microsoft doing promoting the massive spending of other people's money to fix their labor problems? This kind of narrow minded thinking makes rich people and rich corporations look stupid and naive.    Microsoft builds and sells a product, "Live Meeting", that supposedly provides a productive solution to remote collaboration. Instead of forcing the community to subsidize your product management mistakes and inability to deliver on the marketing appeal of remote productivity, why don't you spend your own money building your own solution so your own employees can be productive without having to traverse land and water barriers to your office locations at public expense?    I have a neighbor with a successful software development business who operates out of his home and employees engineers ON ANOTHER CONTINENT! Meanwhile, Microsoft needs taxpayer money to ensure the productivity of it's employees? Microsoft, your credibility stinks. Keep your grubby hands off my tax money.  This promotion demonstrates your lack of vision, lack of creativity, lack of insight, and inability to succeed where others have already set the example of success.    

  6. Anonymous says:

    Please explain how Microsoft can claim to be a supporter of 21st century sustainability when it actually supports "shut up and drive".

  7. Anonymous says:

    Please explain how Microsoft can claim to be a supporter of 21st century sustainability when it actually supports "shut up and drive".