Sunday, June 17, 2018

Washington State Route 515

On Sunday, June 10, 2018, we drove home on Washington State Route 515.

RCW 47.17.705 State route No. 515:

A state highway to be known as state route number 515 is established as follows:

Beginning at a junction with state route number 516 in the vicinity east of Kent, thence northerly to a junction with state route number 900 in Renton.

SR 515 @ SR 516
Ready for a trip down memory lane? Well, that's what Isabelle got as we drove north on the Benson Highway. Here we begin at the junction of SR 515 with SR 516 on Kent's East Hill. "My piano teacher lived around here somewhere."

SR 515 @ I-405
"Alfy's Pizza is gone." "How long has that Red Robin been there?" "I lived on that street as a kid." "Bookworld is gone." But the Golden Steer remains. After East Hill, the highway curves away from 104th Ave SE to 108th Ave SE. "My school bus used to turn there and go past a house with a huge tractor tire in the yard and it inspired me to write a comic strip series called 'The Giant Wheel'." "I remember when this was a two-lane road." We zoom north and enter Panther Lake. "It looks like the old school is going to be replaced!" We enter Renton and Benson Hill. After Carr/Petrovitsky, the highway curves west onto Benson Drive. Take a right turn if you want to stay on Benson Road, but that's not 515 anymore. "My dentist was down that way." Also that way was the farm of brothers John and Elmer Benson, who built the road from their farm down the hill to Renton in 1913. The Benson name was carried south as the road was extended, but now it's only officially used on these two parallel streets, the original steep Benson Road and the 1970s' bypass Benson Drive, which cuts over to Talbot Road at a constant grade. At the bottom of the hill, we reach a half interchange, built in 2010, with I-405, photographed above.

SR 515 @ SR 900 eastbound
Shortly thereafter, just past Sam's Club (RIP), we turn right on Grady Way to get back to old Benson Road, which connects into Main Ave in downtown Renton. We turn left and head north into town. Two blocks later, though, we come to the junction with the eastbound lanes of SR 900, although the sign just says "405 thataway".

SR 515 @ SR 900 westbound
I was expecting that to be the end of our drive, but apparently last August, Renton and WSDOT changed the next block from one-way southbound SR 515 to a two-way street. So we got to drive north another block and reach the end of SR 515 at this intersection with westbound SR 900, although I didn't see any signs mentioning either state route around here.

It's probably just because it was a Sunday afternoon, but that drive felt almost as fast as taking the Valley Freeway. The Benson Highway is still a highway!

Monday, April 23, 2018

Washington State Route 513

On Wednesday, April 11, 2018, we drove Washington State Route 513 because it was on the way.

RCW 47.17.695
State route No. 513

A state highway to be known as state route number 513 is established as follows:

Beginning at a junction with state route number 520 in Seattle, thence northerly and easterly to the vicinity of Sand Point.

SR 513 @ SR 520
Highway 513 used to start in downtown Seattle on Madison St, but that part was cut in 1971. So here we begin in Montlake at this junction with SR 520. Highway 513 is not signed as a state route here; for all the world, it's just Montlake Blvd.

SR 513 in Seattle
We drive over the Montlake Bridge, past Husky Stadium and curve east onto 45th St. Shortly we're at the halfway point of the route. Curiously, this is also the only place with a "513" sign, hidden under the trees just past the stop light.

SR 513 at Sand Point
The route curves northeast onto Sand Point Way. The speed limit increases to 40 mph and it actually looks like a state highway for a while. Soon, though, Highway 513 reaches its end at 65th St, the entrance to Magnuson Park at Sand Point. The route used to continue north then west to I-5 at 130th and 145th, but that section was cut in 1992.

From what I can tell, the only reason this short stretch of street is still a state route, is because the City of Seattle doesn't want take responsibility for the Montlake Bridge. I see no other purpose for it to still be in the state's list.

Sunday, April 22, 2018

Washington State Route 512

On Saturday, March 31, 2018, we zipped across Pierce County on Washington State Route 512, the southernmost segment of the freeway bypass of I-5 around Seattle and Tacoma.

RCW 47.17.690
State route No. 512

A state highway to be known as state route number 512 is established as follows:

Beginning at a junction with state route number 5 south of Tacoma, thence easterly to a junction with state route number 7 south of Tacoma, thence easterly to a junction with state route number 167 in the vicinity of Puyallup.

SR 512 @ I-5
SR 512 begins in Lakewood at an interchange with I-5. Lots of people around here. Let's make it a freeway.

SR 512 @ SR 7
After a slow start, we zoom eastward. Even though we're surrounded by city, it feels like a forest since Highway 512 was built in a trench. Two miles from I-5, we reach SR 7.

SR 512 @ SR 161 southward
Flying down the trench, we only catch glimpses of suburban homes and occasional farms. When we get to South Hill, the highway curves northward and we have a junction with SR 161. Originally, before the freeway was built, SR 512 ended here.

SR 512 @ SR 167 northward
SR 161 joins us as we speed down the hill to Puyallup. At the bottom of the hill, some tight curves in narrow lanes provide a slowdown of traffic. As we cross the Puyallup River, we are so lucky as to witness some epic road rage. The car ahead of us, "Car B", passes the next car, "Car S", on the right. Car B abruptly cuts back to the left lane a few feet ahead of Car S, then brakes. Car S brakes and swerves to the right lane, but Car B jerks right to stay in front of Car S. Car S goes left, Car B goes left. Car S goes right, Car B goes right. Soon Car S is driving on the right shoulder to avoid Car B. Car B finally has had enough murderous fun and goes to the left lane and speeds away. Car S stays right, hoping to never see Car B again. And then we get to the interchange with SR 167.

SR 512 @ SR 161 northward & SR 167 southward
A half mile later, as we cross over SR 167, Highway 512 comes to an end. Our brief companion SR 161 continues around the loop to head northward on southbound 167.

Except for the dangerous driver of Car B, who should have his license revoked, our drive on SR 512 was quick and quiet.

Friday, April 20, 2018

Washington State Route 510

On Saturday, March 31, 2018, we got back driving again. Here we go, SR 510!

RCW 47.17.685
State route No. 510

A state highway to be known as state route number 510 is established as follows:

Beginning at a junction with state route number 5, thence southeasterly via St. Clair to a junction with state route number 507 at Yelm.

SR 510 @ I-5
The code's description above doesn't mention what city the start point is in, oddly enough. Originally, in 1964, SR 510 started between Olympia and Lacey at a junction with I-5 at Pacific Avenue. Then, three years later, the start point was moved to I-5 in Hawk's Prairie to make SR 510 three miles shorter. And now, without moving, it's in Lacey. ...Annexation.

SR 510 east of St Clair
South past all the big box stores, Marvin and Martin, we slowly roll through traffic. At a roundabout, we turn right onto Pacific Avenue. Back on the original route. Also, back on the old Pacific Highway, the main road between Olympia and Tacoma, back before shortcut called 99 was built. We roll along through the woods, well below the 50 mph speed limit. Above the headwaters of McAllister Creek, the Old Pacific Highway branches off to the left and we go up the hill on the St Clair Cutoff. St Clair never took off as a town; it's just an area of houses in the forest. Just past hidden St Clair Lake, we come to the midway point of SR 510.

SR 510 @ SR 507
Up the hill and two roundabouts later, we're on the Yelm Highway and going 35 through the Nisqually Indian Reservation. Oh look, a casino. We take a right turn at the fourth roundabout to stay on SR 510 (straight would take us in the half-completed bypass of Yelm). On the left, Buddhist temple. On the right, Ramtha's School of Enlightenment. It takes a lot of land to gain enlightenment. Into Yelm, slower and slower we go, till we reach the end of SR 510 at this intersection with SR 507.

Washington State Route 510: one of Thurston County's busy old roads.

Thursday, October 12, 2017

Washington State Route 509

On Saturday, September 2, 2017, we drove both lengths of Washington State Route 509, from Tacoma to Seattle.

RCW 47.17.680>
State route No. 509

A state highway to be known as state route number 509 is established as follows:

Beginning at a junction with state route number 705 at Tacoma, thence northeasterly to a junction with state route number 99 in the vicinity of Redondo; also

From a junction with state route number 516 at Des Moines, thence northerly to a junction with state route number 99 in Seattle.

SR 509 @ I-705
With almost no signage on Pacific Avenue letting drivers know about two freeways 100 yards away, Highway 509 begins at this interchange with I-705.

SR 509 @ SR 99 southward
The light turns green and we're on our way, crossing the cable-stayed bridge opened in 1997 and heading across the Port of Tacoma. (Highway 509 used to be a mile north of here, on 11th Street, before this bridge and freeway were built.) We zip along the edge of the industrial area, paralleling I-5 less than half a mile away. But the freeway section ends fairly soon (near where a new spur connecting to I-5 will be built (scheduled for 2024)), and we curve northwest around Commencement Bay past marinas and scrap metal yards. The highway winds up the bluff under madronas and maples to Browns Point (home of a 1933 art deco lighthouse) and Dash Point. We continue along the top of the bluff, enter King County and Federal Way, rolling along the curvy road through the forest. We stop and take a right turn to stay on the highway. The highway climbs up Lakota Creek's canyon, with the guy ahead of me going 25 in a 35 because ...? At the top, we're suddenly back in civilization, left turn, roll through forested suburbia until we get to the first junction with SR 99, pictured above. This is the end of the first section of Highway 509.

SR 509 @ SR 516
In Des Moines, at this junction with SR 516, our highway resumes. ... Does it really count as a junction if the two highways are end-to-end?

SR 509 @ SR 518
We start slowly in downtown Des Moines (stop and play ping pong at a sports bar), then abruptly out of Des Moines into the city of Normandy Park. Over hill and dale on a straight road, we head as due north as some poor, 19th-Century surveyors could manage. Just when we can see the heart of Burien down the hill ahead of us, Highway 509 cuts southeast toward the airport where we loop around and suddenly we're on a freeway heading north. (The state plans to finish this freeway, connecting southeast to I-5, in 2028. Highway 509 will have six endpoints then (in two Ys), unless the state reassigns numbers or drops sections from the highway system.) We race north back to Burien and this interchange with SR 518, which the signage barely mentions.

SR 509 @ SR 99 north southward
We cruise on down the hill to Seattle on the quiet freeway. In South Park, we arrive at our section junction with SR 99.

SR 509 @ SR 99 northward
A half mile later, still in the same interchange, just before the Duwamish River bridge, SR 509 officially ends and the road ahead is SR 99.

Starting life as a quiet road up the shoreline, Highway 509 is gradually being pulled into the freeway city. It has been transitioning since the 1960s, but by 2030 the transition might be complete. One freeway for the Port of Tacoma and one freeway for Sea-Tac Airport. For now, though, it's an odd mix of freeways, city streets, and curvy forest roads.

Tuesday, July 25, 2017

Washington State Route 508

On Sunday, July 16, 2017, we drove Washington State Route 508, through the wilds of Lewis County.

RCW 47.17.675
State route No. 508

A state highway to be known as state route number 508 is established as follows:

Beginning at a junction with state route number 5 south of Chehalis, thence easterly by way of Onalaska to a junction with state route number 7 at Morton.

SR 508 @ I-5
Just outside Napavine, on the edge of Newaukum Prairie, our highway begins here at this junction with I-5.

SR 508 west of Cinebar
We head across the Newaukum Prairie and up the valley of the South Fork Newaukum River. Forests and farmland, so familiar. We arrive at the timber town Onalaska. Old barns and lumber yards. Horses and cattle. Angus bulls for sale. Hay bales. At the lower end of the Shoestring Valley, we cross the river on a bridge inside a bridge. (The 70-year-old structure is scheduled to be replaced.) Shortly thereafter, we reach the halfway point of the highway, pictured above.

SR 508 @ SR 7
After Cinebar, the valley narrows. Highway 508 twists and turns across Bear Canyon and up the narrow, green Tilton River valley. Isabelle takes a nap. Christina gives her a head massage. The valley widens again, slightly, and we're back to farmland. Morton. We roll through old town on Main Avenue and reach the end of Highway 508 at this junction with SR 7.

I'm not sure why this road is still a state highway, since is just parallels US 12, but it was a pleasant drive through the countryside.

Monday, June 5, 2017

Washington State Route 507

On Monday, April 3, 2017, we drove north on Washington State Route 507 from end to end.

RCW 47.17.670
State route No. 507

A state highway to be known as state route number 507 is established as follows:

Beginning at a junction with state route number 5 in Centralia, thence northerly by the most feasible route by way of Bucoda to Tenino, thence northeasterly by way of Rainier, Yelm and McKenna to a junction with state route number 7 in the vicinity south of Tacoma.

SR 507 @ I-5
Just a couple years ago, WSDOT modified this interchange so the north (east) bound beginning is nearly a half-mile south of where it used to be. So old Mellen Street changed from two-way to one-way south (west) and our journey starts at this new bridge over I-5.

SR 507 @ SR 510
We start by turning north on a frontage road, until we're back to Mellen Street, then we turn east and head into Centralia. We slowly roll through the big, old downtown, a block from the Burlington Northern railroad tracks, but then we cross the Skookumchuck River and we're into farmland and residential. We cross the Skookumchuck again and we're flying north, parallel to the railroad again. But then we cross the Skookumchuck a third time and the highway turns into a lumpy farm road on its way to Bucoda, a small town where we rejoin the tracks. When we get to Tenino, we come to a T with old highway 99 (no longer a state route) and turn right, under the tracks. Tenino has an small, quiet old downtown, compared to Centralia. Old 99 curves left and Highway 507 curves right. We catch a glimpse of Mt Rainier as we accelerate out of town on the fast and straight highway. An old branch of the Burlington Northern, now a bike trail, is beside us. We zoom past a lake and river, a little slower through the town of Rainier, find an active railroad to cross (the old Chicago, Milwaukee, St Paul & Pacific), then we follow the rail trail through the hills all the way to Yelm and this junction with SR 510, where we need to turn right to stay on Highway 507.

SR 507 @ SR 702
Yelm is big suburbia compared to everything before it. We get into a long line of cars behind an empty semi truck. The highway bridges over the still-active Milwaukee Road railroad then bridges over the Nisqually River. We enter the town of McKenna and find a junction with SR 702.

SR 507@ SR 7
We cross the Milwaukee tracks, then parallel them north. Mt Rainier looms on the horizon. We separate momentarily from the Milwaukee Road to go through the town of Roy, one-sided beside the Burlington Northern tracks. But we get back to the Milwaukee (crossing the tracks again) and roll north through the forest of Fort Lewis. The empty semi pulls off the road in the middle of nowhere, presumably to let everyone go by. After a couple odd street intersections in the dense forest, we abruptly emerge from the woods and arrive at the Y with SR 7. Welcome to Spanaway.

It may take longer, but Highway 507 is more pleasant to drive than I-5. One can imagine the world before the interstate freeways, a nation tied together by winding two-lane roads following the twin steel ribbons that came before them.