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City Council revisits transit hub study
On Monday, June 16 representatives from Sound Transit and King County Metro, presented to Council and staff, updated design plans for the Island station and a more nuanced study of the impact East Link will have on the North-end Park-and-Ride. The presentation follows last Thursday’s executive order by Dow Constantine, calling for greater integration between bus and rail lines.
When East Link begins service in 2023, it will overlap with certain existing routes, like ST 550 and 554, which stop on the Island and proceed on to destinations in Bellevue and Issaquah.
“As we build out our regonal light rail system,” said Don Billen, East Link’s deputy project director, “there will be many opportunities to integrate bus and rail service, to better serve riders and to achieve operational efficiencies for the transit agencies.”
On Mercer Island, that means removing duplicate services. Buses stop on the Island 350 times a day. An additional 150 buses travel across I-90 but don’t stop in the city. A more integrated plan would remove some of those buses from the road. Billen says he expects East Link to require as many or fewer buses to meet existing transit needs.
Though the alterations wouldn’t add more daily buses to the road, they would make for busier peak hours. Now, most of that traffic is spread throughout the day.
A study conducted by Metro, Sound Transit and the city, looked at eight intersections in and around the Park-and-Ride. The “performance” of intersections is rated on a scale of “A” through “F,” “C” or better being the standard for Mercer Island. A rating of “E” or better is standard for the state. Under future projections, seven intersections meet that city standard, except for North Mercer Way and 80th Ave S.E., the HOV on and off ramps for I-90. That particular location has a projected rating of “E” when traffic flows are altered to take East Link into account. Billen notes that’s permissable under state averages but below average for the city.
“We’re trying to understand the implications of this so we can appreciate what impacts would be on our citizens,” said Mayor Bruce Bassett before Monday’s meeting.
The Council’s agenda packet is available at: www.mercergov.org.