Northbound Interstate 405 travelers exiting to State Route 520 on their way to Redmond will notice their drive got less crowded this week, with the construction of a new, dedicated exit ramp. Local elected officials clipped a ribbon Tuesday to mark the early completion of the state Department of Transportation's Bellevue Braids project.
Some seven months ahead of schedule, WSDOT opened a new ramp to Redmond that bypasses 124th Avenue Northeast. Nearly three quarters of a mile long, the ramp reduces the traffic weave with eastbound SR 520 drivers exiting onto 124th Avenue Northeast and gives drivers coming from I-405 more elbow room in their commute to Redmond.
The Braids project, started in 2009, improves safety and reduces congestion for northbound traffic on I-405 in downtown Bellevue. Multi-level "braided" ramps eliminate the notorious "weave" of vehicles entering and exiting the interstate.
Prior to the construction of the ramps, the City of Bellevue and WSDOT teamed up to connnect Northeast 10th Street across I-405. From 2006 to 2009, WSDOT built the overpass, while the city extended the street from both sides.
"The Bellevue Braids project shows how we can improve traffic flow in an urban environment to keep people and the economy moving," Secretary of Transportation Paula Hammond said Tuesday. "We also put people 300 people to work at a time when they needed it most, thanks to federal and local funding."
The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act contributed approximately $80 million for the $107.5 million project. The remainder of the funds came from a 2005 gas tax package.
Next month, as part of the project, crews will open the final lane on the Northeast 12th Street Bridge to traffic. The new bridge spans the new braided ramps stemming from Northeast 10th Street and is wider, longer and taller than its predecessor. It also features a 22-foot-wide pedestrian and bicycle lane that is separated from traffic.
WSDOT awarded the design-build contract to Guy F. Atkinson Construction in December 2009. During the project, crews removed and replaced the Northeast 12th Street Bridge, constructed an additional six bridges, built 23 retaining walls, repaired concrete pavement on northbound I-405, and completed environmental steam mitigation at Sturdevant Creek.
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