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News brief | Merrimount citizen panel begins work

Merrimount citizen panel begins work

The 17-member panel of Islanders charged by the mayor to establish a revision of the Island Crest Way and Merrimount Drive intersection, accepted communitywide, will meet for the second time next week.

The group’s next meeting will be held at 6 p.m., Dec. 9, at the North-end fire station, 3030 78th Ave. S.E. There will be an opportunity for public comment at the meeting. According to the city’s communications coordinator, Joy Johnston, all options remain open on what will happen with the intersection.

The city engineer is serving as the project manager and coordinator while traffic consultants from KPG Engineering will continue to provide the technical analyses and graphical presentations for the committee. The cost of the consultant work and other meeting expenses for the group are estimated at $52,000.

The panel held its first meeting on Nov. 13. The minutes from that meeting will be posted on the city’s Web site at www.mercergov.org/islandcrestway after the group approves them next week.

The City Council wants a recommendation from the group after its third meeting in January. After that, the city plans to host an open house or two in the spring for the public. The Council is expected to vote on a proposal in June.

The Council approved converting Island Crest Way from the current four-lane configuration to a three-lane configuration last June but later decided to delay its decision until additional public outreach was completed.

The panel of 15 Islanders and two Councilmembers was selected in October. The Council has been considering changes to the intersection since 2005 and has voted twice against installing a traffic signal. A review of the intersection determined that it had the highest rate of accidents on the Island, and many of the incidents were the most severe type, such as angle or “t-bone” accidents. The current modifications were installed in 2007 on a trial basis and have successfully improved safety in the intersection, KPG engineers have found.

For more information, contact Project Manager Anne Tonella-Howe at anne.tonella-howe@mercergov.org or (206) 275-7813.

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