Council chooses ‘road diet’ for Island Crest Way

After two hours of listening to public opinion and more than an hour of discussion, the Mercer Island City Council moved to a road diet solution for Island Crest Way at its Dec. 7 meeting. With a four-three vote, the Council moved to accept Option 3C, which will reconfigure Island Crest Way into a three-lane road from Merrimount Drive to the 5300 block.

The option, which was selected by the Citizen Panel, will also include four median islands for a pedestrian crossing, a signal for mid-block pedestrian crossing at S.E. 42nd Street and several widened areas along the road for buses to pull out.

Now that an option has been chosen, the city’s next task is to determine the project’s scope, schedule and budget. Staff was also asked to further study the configuration as part of the 2010 Transportation Improvement Program and recommend whether the three-lane section of Island Crest Way should begin “north of Merrimount but south of S.E. 42nd Street.” Staff will return to the City Council with its suggestions.

Before making their decision, the City Council commended the packed room of Island residents for the thoughtful manner in which they collectively discussed and expressed their opinions on the fate of Island Crest Way.

“This has been the best discussion that I can remember in 10 years on the Council, and I want to thank you all for that,” said Deputy Mayor El Jahncke.

Public discussion on the topic has been circulating for several months now, with opinions heated on both sides. Monday’s meeting reflected this, as more than 30 people showed up to speak and listen. Comments ranged from first-person testimonials about ICW accidents witnessed, teenagers asking the Council to make the corridor a safer place for young drivers, parents imploring the city to consider the safety of their children, and Islanders adamantly against a three-lane configuration.

Yet in the end, the Council chose what is being called the “road diet” configuration. It was a choice that Councilmembers Jim Pearman, Dan Grausz, Mike Grady and Bruce Bassett — the four who supported the motion — found to be the safest, most efficient and financially feasible, based on the data and research supplied.

A visual diagram of the ICW road diet plan (Option 3C), can be downloaded from the City Council’s Web page under the Dec. 7 meeting agenda:

For more information about the plan, to view past stories, history and comments, go to our web site

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