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!

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