Ceremony kicks off the opening of new NE 36th Street Bridge

The Northeast 36th Street Bridge, which spans State Route 520, is now open and ready to use after just 18 months of construction.

A ceremony kicked off the opening of the new NE 36th Street Bridge over SR 520 in the Overlake neighborhood of Redmond on Wednesday.

The Northeast 36th Street Bridge, which spans State Route 520, is now open and ready to use after just 18 months of construction.

On Wednesday afternoon, city, state and federal officials as well as members of the public joined City of Redmond Mayor John Marchione at the ribbon-cutting ceremony for the bridge’s opening.

The bridge was a complex project and Marchione said they were fortunate to have it completed in such a short amount of time.

“We spent more time planning this project than it took to build,” he said.

Marchione added that the bridge was something the Overlake neighborhood desperately needed. The population is on the rise and the bridge will help relieve traffic congestion in the area, including one of the busiest intersections in the city — Northeast 24th Street and 148th Avenue Northeast. The bridge will also connect the Overlake area, including the Microsoft campus.

The entire project cost was $30 million and was funded by a combination of public and private money. About $4.6 million came from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act and $2.5 million came from the Federal Highway Administration.

During his remarks at the ceremony, Marchione said the city originally received $11 million from the ARRA, but due to the favorable bidding climate at the time, they were able to give more than $6 million to be distributed among other projects in the region.

The city contributed $5.4 million and Microsoft Corporation picked up the remaining $17.5 million tab. The bridge was built by Bellevue-based Tri-State construction and includes a through-lane in each direction, bike lanes, sidewalks, intersection improvements and direct connections to the State Route 520 trail. The landscaped bridge also contains the city’s first roundabout and leaves space to accommodate future Sound Transit Link Light Rail alignment.

City officials said the 36th Street bridge had been in the planning stage for quite sometime. So when the money became available, it was one of the first projects to receive federal stimulus dollars because they were ready to dig in pretty much immediately.

“We were truly shovel ready,” Marchione said.

Construction on the bridge began June 1, 2009.

The ceremony, which remained dry despite many attendees’ brining umbrellas in case of rain, also included remarks from representatives from the Washington State Department of Transportation, Puget Sound Regional Council and Federal Highway Administration.

As project manager, Dennis Apland has been on board since the beginning about four years ago. He said the bridge runs diagonally over SR-520 from Northeast 31st Street to Northeast 36th Street and is the product of a lot of clever engineering. The off-set lid design as well as diagonal placement allowed them to build the 480-foot long bridge using standard construction methods, making the project much more cost efficient. He said they were also able to build without disrupting traffic on SR-520.

During construction, Apland said his commute from one end of the bridge to the other took a good half hour. Now that the bridge is open, it takes him a mere three minutes, which demonstrates how much Overlake needed the bridge.

“This is absolutely essential for the area,” he said. “This is pretty critical.”

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