The Washington Senate Tuesday approved a bill that sponsors say will allow the state to move forward with plans for a toll-financed replacement of the Highway 520 floating bridge over Lake Washington.

Last year lawmakers authorized the use of tolls to help fund the replacement of the 520 bridge, but limited the use of toll-backed bonds to replacement only of the structure of the bridge, which links Seattle and Bellevue.

The new legislation, sponsored by Sen. Rodney Tom, D-Bellevue, would permit the bonds to finance projects along the entire 12-mile corridor of Highway 520 between Interstate 5 in Seattle and Highway 202 in Redmond.

"We've got lots of projects on the Eastside [of Lake Washington] that are ready to go at a time in which we've got a very favorable bidding environment," Tom said in a news release. "By getting some of these projects underway now, we advance the bridge replacement and save taxpayers loads of money."

The bill was approved by a margin of 44 to 3. It now heads to the House.

"We worked hard, we worked both sides of the bridge, and we worked together in a bipartisan manner," said Sen. Mary Margaret Haugen, D-Camano Island, the chair of the Senate Transportation Committee.

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