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Just say NO to a bus terminal and more parking
The City Council continues on the path of allowing the “uprooting” of the North-end of the Island in exchange for a parking facility. Not a good exchange and one that may not solve the Town Center parking problem.
Sound Transit and Metro are using Mercer Island to solve their problems. They are willing to negotiate for additional parking on Mercer Island because they want to use it for displaced autos when they build the new Park-and-Ride in South Bellevue. Will the South Bellevue buses also come to the Island during the building phase? This is not negotiating, when Sound Transit is willing to give what they want.
We do not know whether the additional 220 planned parking spaces at the Community Center will solve the Town Center parking problem. There is no mention as to what are the causes of the parking problem. Is it commuting residents from the South-end, people working on Mercer Island, off-Island commuters to Seattle, apartment dwellers that don’t want to pay for or do not have parking? What is the percentage of usage of the Eastgate parking facility? Without knowing the causes you cannot solve the problem.
The parking problem cannot get any worse than it is now. Street and merchant parking space is already limited. If you build additional parking, “they will come”. How will the parking be policed to keep off-Island commuters out? What will be the effect on the Community Center parking?
The Council is correct in asking for more details about the new South Bellevue Park-and-Ride and why it will not accommodate additional buses and why they feel the Bellevue Way on- and off-ramps on I-90 are not able to handle the additional buses. Why not spend the money to fix that problem rather than spending the $8-18 million on Mercer Island to disrupt the downtown area.
If we cannot stop the bus terminal, why not use the leverage on Sound Transit to pay for improved bus service on the Island? Either by providing funds so that Mercer Island could buy small buses or paying Metro for improved bus service. This would reduce the need for parking in the Town Center.
Mercer Island is already due to get $6 million in exchange for the loss of the HOV lanes. We should make sure that this is not lost in the bargaining.
The South Bellevue Terminal is a “win-win.” Save millions, cars will follow for faster light rail service from the Eastside and we get improved bus service on the Island.