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As I walked up West Mercer Way on Seafair Sunday to watch the Blue Angels, I was shocked at the number of cars parked in the road, blocking traffic. When I crossed 40th, I saw at least a dozen cars of self-absorbed people who thought it perfectly appropriate to park in the southbound lane of West Mercer so that they would not have to walk far to the Blue Angels parties they were attending.
As a result, West Mercer was reduced to one lane for a distance of several blocks north of 40th. Since virtually all of the traffic leaving Blue Angels parties was routed down West Mercer to 40th, it is no wonder that it took people more than an hour to reach I-90 when leaving the area.
I did not observe any police enforcement in progress, and I know some of the cars were still there when everyone was leaving the area. I certainly hope the MIPD acted quickly to clear the illegally parked cars and fine the owners. It should also be incumbent on those hosting parties off West Mercer to ensure that their guests do not block traffic and interfere with the thousands of vehicles that use the road on Seafair weekend.
While I appreciated the heads-up given to us by the front-page article in last weeks Reporter, as well as its clarity vis-à-vis the State DOTs Web site, I would further appreciate your finding out about and advising readers regarding the logic of imprecise closures before the scheduled closures. (I already tried three times to get that answer from DOT, without success.) DOTs position translates to me as, Were going to close it before we officially close it, but were not going to tell you exactly when, so you can bloody well guess; and if you get stuck for a couple of hours (and need to go potty, or take your meds, or whatever), well, thats your problem for not guessing well.
The main problem, as I see it, is that DOTs announcement allows no one to answer the simple question, By what time should I plan to cross the lake the latter half of this week? Advice like closed up to 30 minutes before; but, wait up to one hour before; oh, but if its the center roadway, up to two hours before, is just not good enough. If you apply this advice to todays schedule, you can conclude that the bridge may be closed from 8:45 a.m. until 3 p.m. or after (including the time it takes to dissipate the long lineup), with as few as 15 minutes during that entire day from noon until 12:15 p.m. to get across.
As I write, I have this image in mind of a long-haul truck driver arriving here today from, say, Chicago; with his or her semi full of perishable goods, on a tight delivery schedule, and mindful of the fact that in the business world, time is money and not having a clue when he or she is going to be able to cross Lake Washington on a federal highway! This despite his or her dispatcher having duly checked to find out what the scheduled closures were to be.
So, please do whatever you can to encourage DOT to tell us simply that the real closures are going to be from X until Y, so that we can plan accordingly.