Dear Guy Who Just Took His Undersized Sailboat Through the Drawbridge on 520


It's possible he couldn't take that through the raised section at present -- they've got a lot of new construction there that may be getting in the way of even a small sailboat.
So you'd be happier if it was a big expensive sailboat? Isn't it a good thing that the nature-powered vehicle brought the car culture to a standstill?

Will never understand the ingrained knee-jerk reactionary attitude to sailing around here. It is a sport that doesn't use fossil fuel for god's sake! Don't turn your back on the water that surrounds you.
Think of it like this: Sailing is like bicycling on the water.
you in a taxi? that's gotta be expensive as shit then...
@2, you get the gold star for straw man/off-topic rant of the day.
i think someone is green with envy
Doesn't breaking down on 520 incur fines because of the traffic delays it causes? I don't see why sailboats passing underneath during rush hour should be treated any differently. Seriously, who the hell approves these crossings and why would they approve one at this time of day?
@5 And I'm not even drunk!
People in boats were here in Seattle long before people in cars. Know your place.
It's not really the sailboat owner's fault. It's the goddamn state transportation department. They are counting on people just taking this crap without complaining about the obvious stupidity of it. There is no divine right for boats to cross that waterway. They sometimes raise the bridge multiple times a day now, in the middle of prime travel times, just because Gus with his little pocket cruiser has to get to his dock in Sheridan Beach. It's a goddamn joke. What's the scenario that makes it necessary to not just cluster all crossings once a day at, say, 10pm?

Any other town but passive-aggressive Seattle would descend on the governor's mansion with torches and pitchforks over this BS.
I love the idea of a sailboat not using fossil fuels. I wonder how they get around with their sails down... fairy dust?
FINALLY, someone at The Stranger GETS IT. I'm in a CAR because I am IMPORTANT and my time means more than yours. I shouldn't have to stop for boats, or trains, or buses, or bicycles, or pedestrians! If they were in as much of a hurry as I am, they'd obviously be in a CAR. Fuck 'em!
I tend to work a later day than typical, which means I often get screwed by the 7-7:30 pm closings of 520. They happen on random but not infrequent dates, so I have to remember to check the web page from the bus. What the hell is up with that? Isn't it just a little close to regular commute time??
There is no divine right, but it is federal regulation:…
@11 You don't need to wonder; they often have little engines.
@14: Well, sorta:

"It shall be the duty of all persons owning, operating, and tending the drawbridges built prior to August 18, 1894, or which may thereafter be built across the navigable rivers and other waters of the United States, to open, or cause to be opened, the draws of such bridges under such rules and regulations as in the opinion of the Secretary of Transportation the public interests require to govern the opening of drawbridges for the passage of vessels and other water crafts, and such rules and regulations, when so made and published, shall have the force of law."

Does that not mean it's up to the Transportation Secretary? It's Lynn Peterson's fault!
Bridges over the ship canal limit their openings during rush hour, I bet the 520 bridge does as well, and wouldn't have opened a little later in the day. Typically there is a pack of boats let through right after 6pm so if you are in a car crossing in the summer it's a good bet you'll get stuck at that time.
@14, that is just the statute. Here is the regulation (you can find the text here) (emphasis added):

The draw of the Evergreen Point Floating Bridge between Seattle and Bellevue shall operate as follows:

(a) The draw shall open on signal if at least two hours notice is given.

(b) Telephone requests for bridge opening may be directed as collect calls to the Highway Radio or made by direct telephone communication through the Seattle Marine Operator, Station KOH, or through other marine wire or radiotelephone service.

(c) The draw need not be opened from 5 a.m. to 9 p.m. Monday through Friday, except for all Federal holidays other than Columbus Day.
unpaid reader: I can assure you that the half-hour-long closing of the bridge is also annoying from a bus. (Possibly more so, since they don't let you out to walk to the edge and marvel that you are stopped in the middle of a bridge)
@16 the statute probably refers to the U.S. Secretary of Transportation, not the Washington Secretary of Transportation. See my comment @18 for a citation to the rules that actually govern the operation of the drawbridge.
I don't know about the 520 bridge, but the drawbridges within the city are mandated to remain closed during rush hours - about fifteen years ago it was 7 to 9 and 4 to 6, if I remember rightly.

Of course, the corollary to this is that in decent weather it is pretty well guaranteed that the bridges will open shortly before and shortly after those times.
@3- Can you imagine how people would spaz if a single cyclist halted traffic both directions on 520 for ten minutes?
I suspect @1 has it.

I am an avid sailor, and have been through under the high point of the 520 bridge in much larger sailboats than the dinky one in the photo. Something about the construction is probably blocking the open span, requiring the bridge to be raised instead. I haven't been over there in a while, so don't know for sure.

Also, there are scheduled hours that the bridges (all of them, not just this one) won't open, mostly during normal heavy commute hours. Your trip must have occurred during what WSDOT considers off-peak hours. If you don't like it, don't complain to the boater, complain to the people that regulate bridge openings. All the bridges on the ship canal are managed by SDOT; the 520 bridge is managed by WSDOT.
This is insane. I got caught in the same mess last Friday - paid a toll to do it too! They really need to not open that bridge during working hours, construction be damned. How many people would be truly inconvenienced if they couldn't go for a weekday afternoon sail? Compare that to the number of people who are delayed in order to open the draw. Ridiculous.
In all my years in Seattle, I got stuck on the 520 for the same reason once. I had the same reaction - really, they shut down an entire highway for 1 stupid boat?

Anyway, turns out this is mandated by the Coast Guard due to construction blocking normal passages under the bridge, and no, the boats don't have to pay.
Yep, welcome to navigable waterways. This month the Coast Guard commander published a temporary rule fix during the time the eastern highrise crossing is obstructed, until summer 2015. Get used to it.
The USCG has revised the draw span operating schedule for the SR 520 Evergreen Point Floating Bridge. Construction activities will continue for the duration of the bridge replacement project until approximately 30 Aug 15. Vessels which are impacted by the closure of the east channel that are not able to navigate through the west channel of the existing bridge may request an opening of the center draw span for passage. Boaters may request a draw span opening by calling WSDOT at (206) 440-4490.
it's page 12 of this pdf:…
If you go across regularly you might want to sign up for alerts (text or email).… (be sure to only choose the 520 alerts, not all of them!) Today's was sent at 12:30 for the 2:30 opening...
@ ejamadoodle: If you think this is about sailboats, you probably can't be helped. @ Everyone making this about cars: I'm on a bus, which is pretty easy to deduct if you look at the pictures for two seconds.
The real question is, why is this post tagged "CATS"?
Thanks Tom, it's also at the bottom of the bridge info page. The 55'-65' span is closed, so the 45' clearance span is the one they have to use.…

I bet the boats wouldn't mind if the 520 bridge we simply scuttled and sunk to the bottom but, for some who think they should be able to drive over the water, they put up with this crap so you can replace your precious water walking bridge.
@29 My cat is constantly complaining about some damn thing or another. Maybe that's it.
Grant, this guy doesn't even have to be of modest means: you can pick up 20 - 25' day sailers for under $5K, depending on age & condition.

What surprises me is that SDOT would allow this boat to traverse the bridge span at this time of day, even with the construction going on for the east span for precisely this reason.


Except for the fact that this vessel isn't under-sail; it's running on a gas or diesel engine, making it no different from a car in this running-mode.
Hah, now I don't feel so bad about stopping traffic at the Soos creek trail crosswalks.

Sorry dudes, bikes (and feet) were here first!

Eminent domain...or something.
What the fuck taxi have y'all been in with windows and numbers like that?! That's the fucking bus, noobs. And I'm boat people so I'm allowed to say this: sailboaters are THE WORST.

Oh yeah...this is why we need a Lake Washington tunnel.

While the union is trying to figure out which local is going to press the speed button, and which local moves the pedals on the Big Mole, they should turn it right and head right underground to Bellevue!
Grant, of course I get the point of your post. But you clearly took a stab at sailors and sailing in the tone of your headline and 1st paragraph, in the usual way; that sailing is the province of the elite and deservers our scorn. I think that's lazy, backwards, unnecessary and is worth a little examination considering where we live.
@ ejamadoodle: Please illustrate the point of my post if you get it. I find your "knee-jerk reaction" to be "lazy, backwards, and unnecessary." And, if you really got the point of my post, you wouldn't have reacted that way.

That is how clueless you are.
@2: Yeah, because there's no fossil fuels being wasted above, certainly.
the savvy car crowd would fund a few boaters to go in and out of the 520 several times a day until everyone get soo fed up with it, enough people would complain and this insane practice would stop. i've been stopped twice in the last 3 weeks because of this BS. once at 11 a.m. and once at 230 pm . 1 boat each time. what crap. ps - i belong to a sail boat club on the Sound, so I don't have to f&* with the locks or boat crossings and hold up traffic. seriously, it should be illegal.

The drawspan will not open weekdays from 6:30 a.m., to 9:59 a.m., and 3 p.m., to 7 p.m., with the exception of federal holidays excluding Columbus Day.

The drawspan will only open on the hour or half-hour between 10 a.m. and 2:30 p.m. seven days a week.

They're supposed to schedule the opening with 2 hours of notice.... and update the WSDOT website I linked to above with that schedule.

Grant, when did this happen ? after 6:30 and before 10AM ?
@41, Grant is with his shopping carts at the moment, so see @27's report of getting a two-hour advance notice that this would be a 2:30 opening.
you should have a bridge that's high enough to not need to open to let boats under. you should not build floating bridges that will sink. bridges should last several hundred years or thousands. the problem is our cheapness in building low, floating bridges, then rebuilding them cheaply every 30 years or so; obviously this enriches construction companies, gives WSDOT lots of project to manage and fucks over the public. it's not so deep you can't build a real bridge. every wonder why floating bridges are so rare? because they sink, and they block boat traffic. build a real bridge folks. oh wait, we're putting in another floater that will need to be replaced in just thirty years.
You all should go read up on the Public Trust Doctrine concerning public rights to navigable waterways. The right to navigate on public waterways is ancient law going back 1500 years to the Code of Justinian. Yes, the state can regulate what hours the bridge can open but the comments about "Why should one boat be able to stop traffic?" reflect a lot of ignorance.
yo draw a dick on your butt
grant brissey,

this fandangled infrastructure, this BRIDGE - bisecting the majestic wonder of lake washington, is nothing more than an elaborate trap to your elegantly engineered day.

whomever you are, and whatever it is that you ordinarily do with your day, know that this (and by this, i mean ALL OF THIS...) is purely inadequate.

sub par.

a devastating disappointment.

and, you deserve better...

Someone needs to invent masts that can recline strongly from their base. It shouldn't have to take one goddamn mast to
shut down so much traffic and waste so many people's time
I don't know why everyone assumes that this vessel is just going for a sail. It's a pain in the ass to open that bridge, both to make the arrangements and the slow way that bridge opens. No sailor casually takes their boat through that span. People should remember there are several marinas south of 520, some of them even provide jobs to Seattleites. Those marinas were built long before they built 520. The vessel likely makes its moorage south of the bridge, and for whatever reason--likely she was up repairs--she had to transit north at some point earlier. The construction limits the east side span height, the west side's is 45' and even a 'dinky' 35' boat would have a mast taller than 45'. I gotta say, as a sailor and driver who has long been frustrated by the 520 bridge, whoever designed that drawbridge should be shot. It is the slowest and most fraught span to open and close in the region, and once it actually killed someone. It's a terrible design, and rather than blame the boater for doing something, possibly for their first time ever, that they have every legal right to do, returning their boat to its berth, blame the engineers who designed a bridge where this inconvenience would be lengthy and commonplace. Also, consider the vessel traffic as the bridges of the future get built. I'm looking at you, Montlake.
Love all the posts citing maritime law saying "See? End of discussion." Because if it's a law that's just the way it is.

Anyway back to whipping my slaves.
@34 small power boats are the worst. At least sailboats and cruisers tend to know the rules of the road, so to speak. Sounds like you might be a bit bitter that sailboats have the right of way over you.
@49 The point is that the law was written that way for a very good reason. You can't build a huge bridge over a public right of way and then tell people they can't access the original right of way any longer. You can pass reasonable restrictions for rush hour, etc but the "there is no divine right for boats to cross" argument is totally without merit. The freedom to navigate public waters is an *ancient* right that can't be gotten rid of just because a bunch of people in cars don't like it.

Oh yeah, and power boats suck.
@51 Bullshit. Things change, and the law should work to the greatest contemporary good.

The worst part? The bridge being closed delayed the waaaaaaambulance.
It would've been so much better if it had been a big sailboat. Not only did they raise the bridge, but they did it for a middle-class puke. If they're going to raise the bridge, The Stranger wants them to make sure they do it for a rich guy with a big enough boat.
wait i'm really confused, why is everyone discounting this as whining? One person inconveniencing hundreds, possibly even low thousands for something that's essentially strictly a leisure activity is fucking ridiculous. How do you defend that?

Is the urge to whine about entitled drivers just too high?