Our Northwest

Closed drawspan evokes memories of ‘the bulge’

Friday, February 20, 2015by  Jon Osterberg

Motorists – if not boaters – celebrated the permanent end of Evergreen Point Bridge openings this week.
   Work crews floated pontoons into place Tuesday for the new floating bridge, blocking the SR 520 drawspan that since 1963 had periodically opened for boat traffic and halted cars. The new bridge will not have a drawspan. Instead, it features a higher clearance at its east end, 70 feet, allowing tall boats to pass.
   Longtime residents might recall drawspan delays on the old Mercer Island Floating Bridge, which until 1981 opened occasionally for marine traffic. The design of that original I-90 bridge included what locals called “The Bulge,” a chicane that forced drivers to swerve right, then left, as they skirted “The Well.”
   The bulge intimidated drivers because, occasionally, speeding cars failed to swerve and plunged into the well. Urban folk legends told of cars that had disappeared into Lake Washington forever.
   Legend became reality in September 1981, when construction workers replaced the unsafe bulge with a straight span. While raising an old anchor cable, they accidentally snagged a submerged 1978 Plymouth that contained the body of its 18-year-old driver, who had vanished in 1979. Read the Daily Record news story.

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