Opinion

Does our input matter for light rail?

Sound Transit in nearing its final design phase for the Mercer Island station for the light rail trains that will stop on the I-90 center lanes in the block bounded by 80th and 77th Avenues S.E. along North Mercer Way. The agency is holding another Open House between 5 and 7 p.m. on July 10 at the Community and Events Center.

Despite the fact that the agency says that the design is 60 percent complete, there is more they say, that can be influenced by community input. There is landscaping, art, construction materials and the like, that are yet to be finalized. Probably most important is how to ensure rail and bus riders can move back and forth easily between buses and trains along North Mercer Way, and how and where buses will line up to receive riders.

But you may ask, why should we bother? Does it matter what we say? Will the facility serve the Island or just those passing through.

Left out of the discussion about the station is where Islanders will park in order to even get to the transit stops. The plans do not include increasing the size of the Island Park-and-Ride, which is usually chock full by 7:30 a.m. each day.

The problem from Islanders’ perspective is that off-Islanders fill the Park-and-Ride before residents get a chance to find a spot. Also a problem is that folks who wish to ride into the city later in the morning for work or a doctor’s appointment — will not find a place either. Adding to that frustration is that Metro bus routes that bring Islanders from the South-end, Shorewood or Covenant Shores to the Park-and-Ride or to Seattle, will essentially be completely gone by the end of next year. Just an abbreviated Route 204 will remain, revised from trips every half-hour to every hour.

So what is in this for Islanders? Well, there is hope that something can be done to make the space flexible for future changes in the Town Center that would allow parking in proximity to light rail or bus. Let’s also ensure that how buses queue up will not clog North Mercer or side streets there. Lets make sure it is environmentally friendly, attractive and safe.

 

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