Opinion

More on Merrimount

As more of us now know, the City Council has put the wheels in motion to reduce the four lanes on Island Crest Way between Merrimount and S.E. 53rd into two lanes, plus a center turn lane. This is an expensive, controversial and under-publicized move, and we hope you will consider revisiting your decision before this work is scheduled to start in September.

As we understand it, the dollars, discussion and energy around the current traffic revisions at Merrimount and Island Crest Way have been prompted by a history of traffic accidents at that intersection. We are concerned that the proposed solution will create two new dangerous intersections: one at S.E. 47th and ICW, and the other at 86th S.E. and ICW.

As everyone knows, both before/after high school class hours and big events hosted at MIHS, there is a heavy amount of traffic heading to Island Crest Way. This presents a great challenge for drivers (especially inexperienced teenagers) who want to turn left/south onto ICW from the two main streets leading from the high school neighborhood. Have you considered how this current problem will be greatly intensified at the intersections of 86th S.E./ICW and S.E. 47th/ICW once the current four lanes have been funneled into two lanes?

Intuitively, there will be far fewer breaks in traffic to accommodate drivers trying to turn south onto ICW, resulting in far greater backups on S.E. 47th and 86th S.E. These backups will add pressure to the driver at the front of the line and force poor, impulsive judgments, leading to traffic accidents, as a final outcome. The net result? One unsafe intersection (Merrimount/ICW) has been mitigated by creating two new unsafe intersections (86th S.E./ICW and S.E. 47th/ICW).

We have already experienced some of this effect, due to the fact that many current northbound drivers on ICW start funneling into the one through lane well in advance of the Merrimount/ICW intersection. It will only get worse with the proposed revisions, especially once PEAK opens.

Before implementing something so radical, can you “mock it up” and test it before significant dollars are spent to make it permanent?

Can you make this decision process more publicized and involve the consideration of other ideas that have recently come forward?

Finally, what is the rush?

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