Our Northwest

Hey, I outlived the 'new' floating bridge!

Wednesday, April 6, 2016by  Jon Osterberg

This coming Monday, SR 520 motorists driving to Seattle will cross the new six-lane Evergreen Point floating bridge for the first time.
     That's not to be confused with the old Evergreen Point bridge, which baby boomers like me always called the "new floating bridge." That's because the original Lake Washington Floating Bridge – U.S. Highway 10, connecting Seattle with Mercer Island – opened in 1940, and the Evergreen Point Floating Bridge opened much later, in 1963.
     I was 9 at the time. Months later my mom left her job at Frederick & Nelson in Bellevue Square for a new job in the University District. This required her to commute from Lake Hills via the "new bridge," which cost 35¢ per crossing. Or, if you bought a coupon book, just 19¢.
     Native residents continued to call the SR 520 crossing the "new bridge" long after the Mercer Island bridge sank in a 1990 windstorm. The latter was replaced by a new I-90 bridge. Yet many locals kept calling 520 the "new" bridge.
     Confused? Old habits die hard.
     I suppose it's like driving with your grandma and she says, "Roll up the window," when car windows haven't had hand cranks for decades.
     Or your grandpa saying, "Wow, this is a Kodak moment!" In today's digital world, Kodak film is as about relevant as calling twin siblings "carbon copies" (which long ago went the way of ditto machines and, someday soon, Xerox copiers).
     My family joined thousands of other revelers last Saturday in hiking across the new 520 bridge. It felt a bit odd to gaze over at the old 520 span, now 53 years old, and concede that it's obsolete. I still remember how excited I was to cross it for the first time as a crew-cut 4th-grader.
     The new span is projected to last 75 years. Here's hoping my grandkids are still around to see it decommissioned and, like me, outlive the "new" floating bridge.

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