Parking, or lack thereof, has been a discussion topic in Mercer Island for the past few years. City officials have said that one of their goals is to secure more Island-only parking before East Link light rail operations begin.
Recently, some residents have asked if the city could purchase the Park and Ride for resident use. The current lot is filled by 7:30 a.m. most mornings, with about 50 percent of the cars coming from off-Island. That number could increase when the South Bellevue Park and Ride closes next year.
The city clarified the ownership history in its weekly newsletter and a social media post.
“There’s been some confusion recently about the ownership of, and history behind, the Park and Ride garage next to I-90 on North Mercer Way. It is owned and operated by Sound Transit, and the land has never been owned by the city,” city communications manager Ross Freeman wrote.
The Sound Transit Park and Ride facility on Mercer Island opened in early 2008 and includes a two-story parking garage on the site of a previous (smaller) parking lot. The garage is owned and operated by Sound Transit, supports Sound Transit and Metro bus routes and provides 450 parking stalls on two levels.
The city of Mercer Island has never owned the Park and Ride property. In 1987, it was sold by a private owner to the Washington State Department of Transportation (WSDOT) as the Interstate 90 widening project was fully underway. When parking expansion plans were approved by the voters, the property was purchased in 2005 from WSDOT for $1.5 million by Sound Transit, and is part of its regional park and ride network. Some citizens have questioned if $1.5 million is market value.
The city posted a more extensive history at www.mercergov.org/Page.asp?NavID=1399.
As part of its ongoing mitigation discussions with Sound Transit over the impacts of light rail construction, the city is negotiating for additional parking specifically intended for Mercer Island’s commuters, according to its website.