Monday, September 10, 2018

Washington State Route 520

On September 3, 2018, we drove across the lake and all the way to Redmond on Washington State Route 520.

RCW 47.17.720
State route No. 520

A state highway to be known as state route number 520 is established as follows:

Beginning at a junction with state route number 5 in Seattle, thence easterly via the Evergreen Point bridge to a junction with state route number 202 in the vicinity of Redmond.

SR 520 @ I-5
From northbound I-5 in Seattle, we branch eastward onto the start of Highway 520.

SR 520 @ SR 513
Soon we're on a bridge (a viaduct, actually) high above Portage Bay. The viaduct descends rapidly toward Montlake and the junction with SR 513, which is not signed as a state highway. Last exit before toll!

SR 520 @ I-405
After the brief bit of land at Montlake, we're quickly on the Evergreen Point Bridge over Lake Washington. The first mile is a viaduct across the edge of Union Bay. The westbound lanes were replaced in 2017, towering high above us in the old eastbound lanes from 1963. But as we climb the west highrise, we transition from the rough pavement to the smooth. We're on the new bridge, also opened in 2017. As we descend to the floating section of the bridge, the speed limit changes from 50 to 60 mph, but I think most people thought it was already 60. At the east highrise, the roadway is flanked by two columns of art. Back on land again, we are tolled a few dollars. We quickly pass through Medina, Hunts Point and Yarrow Point before entering Bellevue. These broad, sweeping turns were widened and repaved in 2015, so we're flying when we reach the junction with I-405.

SR 520 @ SR 202
We head east across the north edge of Bellevue, over and parallel to Northup Way on a section of road first built in the 1970s. We enter Redmond near the Microsoft campus and turn northward on the last section of the highway built, opened in 1979, which takes us down the hill toward downtown Redmond. After West Lake Sammamish Parkway, we shoot straight east a mile on a section that was originally opened as SR 920 since it was completed before the preceding section. This stretch beside Marymoor Park was also only two lanes until the 1990s when it was belatedly widened and an interchange was built at the junction with SR 202. Cirque du Soleil!

SR 520 in Redmond
Highway 520 keeps going past the exit to SR 202, all the way to the end of the overpass, where "End 520" and Avondale Road begins.

All I can say is that's it's much nicer to drive Hwy 520 in the light traffic on a Sunday than a weekday.

Monday, August 13, 2018

Washington State Route 519

On July 14, 2018, we drove Washington State Route 519, all the way from Safeco Field to Coleman Dock.

RCW 47.17.717
State route No. 519

A state highway to be known as state route number 519 is established as follows:

Beginning at a junction with state route number 90 in Seattle, thence westerly, and northerly to the Washington state ferry terminal.

SR 519 @ I-90
We take a left turn on to Martinez Drive to begin. I-90 starts behind us and ends up ahead to the right.

SR 519 on 1st Ave
Right turn on First Avenue, following "To Ferries" signs rather than "SR 519" signs. Wait for long signals timed for hordes of pedestrians that aren't here now. Quiet stadiums. Highway 99 gets close on our left, but there's no direct connection. The halfway point of Highway 519 is just a few blocks from its beginning.

SR 519 @ SR 304 & SR 305
Enter the construction zone for the viaduct replacement tunnel. Parallel to the viaduct, then under the viaduct, then left turn on Jackson (new route this month) to drive between the bay and a chainlink construction fence. This might be confusing if I hadn't looked at WSDOT's construction maps beforehand. At Yesler, enter the ferry terminal. Take SR 304 to Bremerton or SR 305 to Bainbridge Island.

Well, as long as we're here...

Friday, August 3, 2018

Washington State Route 518

On Saturday, July 7, 2018, we drove down the hill on Washington State Route 518.

RCW 47.17.715
State route No. 518

A state highway to be known as state route number 518 is established as follows:

Beginning at a junction with state route number 509 near Sunnydale, thence easterly to a junction with state route number 5 in the vicinity of Seattle.

SR 518 @ SR 509
Sunnydale is now Burien. I guess they decided "Sunnydale" was a poor name choice for the top of a hill that's usually cloudy... Highway 518 begins here at SR 509.

SR 518 @ SR 99
A freeway its entire short length, Highway 518 zooms east. We enter the city of SeaTac, then pass under the three bridges built for the runway approach lights of Sea-Tac International Airport. After the exit for the airport, we pass under SR 99. The only direct connection between the two highways is in the eastward direction, though, hence this photo of an onramp.

SR 518 @ I-5
The highway sharply heads downhill, curving down the Gilliam Creek canyon. Brakelights and sudden swerves abound as everyone jockeys for position in their correct lane: north? east? south? Welcome to the interchange with I-5.

SR 518 @ I-405
In the middle of the interchange, underneath the spaghetti bridges, Highway 518 comes to an end, replaced eastward by I-405.

Well, that was pretty much as expected. Now let's go take a hike.

Thursday, August 2, 2018

Washington State Route 516

On Saturday, June 30, 2018, we drove the length of Washington State Route 516 on the way to our birthday party!

RCW 47.17.710
State route No. 516

A state highway to be known as state route number 516 is established as follows:

Beginning at a junction with state route number 509 in the vicinity south of Des Moines, thence southeasterly to a junction with state route number 5; also

From that junction with state route number 5, thence easterly to a junction with state route number 167 in Kent, thence easterly to a junction with state route number 169 south of Maple Valley.

SR 516 @ SR 509
Once what was a junction is now two highways end to end. At this stoplight in Des Moines, our street changes from SR 509 to SR 516.

SR 516 @ SR 99
Highway 516 proceeds to wind up the hill away from Puget Sound, alongside Massey Creek. Shortly we arrive at SR 99 in the Midway neighborhood. In six years, there will be a light rail station a quarter mile south of here.

SR 516 @ I-5
As soon as we leave the Highway 99 intersection, we arrive at the interchange for I-5. Looking at the map, you'll see that the first half of Highway 516 is the southern leg of a rough square of highways that has six parallel north-south route, but only two east-west routes. It's unusual spacing for Washington highways, but that's how the valley lies.

SR 516 @ SR 181
After I-5, the speed limit jumps from 35 to 55 mph, but most drivers don't seem to notice. SR 516 is basically a freeway as we curve down to the Kent valley, until a stop light at the bottom of the hill (once everyone gets up to the speed limit). Then we zip eastward, cross the Green River, and arrive at the West Valley Highway, SR 181.

SR 516 @ SR 167
Even closer together than 99 & I-5, SR 181 is immediately followed by the Valley Freeway, SR 167.

SR 516 @ SR 515
Highway 516 then slows and enters downtown Kent. With no signage (other than two left-turn lanes), we turn north on Central Ave. When we get to Smith St, there is a sign directing us to turn right. Now I'm on a familiar route, driven hundreds of times, passing Earthworks Park and heading up East Hill on Canyon Drive. At the top of the hill, we arrive at the junction with SR 515. Remember Johnny's?

SR 516 @ SR 18
Eastward on Kent-Kangley Rd, the speed limit increases to 45 mph, but when we get to Meridian, nobody wants to drive that fast. I wonder when WSDOT will reduce the speed limit down to 35 mph for the stretch around 132nd Ave. Curves -- even slight curves -- slow drivers down. We pass Lake Meridian (Remember when this was only two lanes?) and cross Soos Creek into Covington. Now the speed limit is 35, but we stop for all the lights. Two of the lights are for the junction with SR 18.

SR 516 @ SR 169
We slowly head east through Covington, which has grown like crazy in the past thirty years. Remember Johnny's? After Wax Road, the road narrows to two lanes and we hit a traffic jam, which lasts all the way to the Home Depot entrance. WSDOT posted a sign that they're going to widen this stretch of road ... in the future. We speed back up, cruising through the forest, gradually up a hill to Maple Valley. The city slogan should be "The Valley on a Hill", since the county didn't let them incorporate the actual valley as part of the city. The valley was left on the rural side of the urban growth boundary. Makes sense, right? At Four Corners (Summit on the old maps), we reach the end of Highway 516 at this intersection with SR 169. Kent-Kangley Rd continues onward another seven miles to the old town of Kangley and beyond, but this is the end of the state route.

SR 516 is so familiar to me, it was surprisingly difficult to see it with new eyes and not just drive it as routine.

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.