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Through articles in the Mercer Island Reporter and letters to the editor, I have become aware of the increasing brouhaha revolving around the Island Crest Way-Merrimount intersection. Common sense and responsibility seem to be seriously lacking over an issue that should be, above-all, an issue of safety.
The City Council is supposed to be looking out for the health, safety and welfare of all Island citizens. To me, this means doing what serves the greatest number of residents. So why does the mayor want to bestow privileges on the small minority of the ICW traffic using Merrimount, rather than the 19,000 daily users of ICW? Why does the large majority have to put up with the flow restriction to benefit the few who want to use Merrimount as a shortcut when alternatives already exist? The “road diet” (reducing ICW from four lanes to two) results in a single lane being foisted on 19,000 daily ICW users and will only plant seeds to grow into increasing numbers of road rage incidents, strangling the ICW through-traffic in favor of the small minority turning left from Merrimount onto ICW.
I have witnessed one severe accident and many near misses involving people entering ICW from 44th. And there will be no way to get around buses when they stop. Just imagine this during rush-hour traffic!
If safety is truly the goal of modifying the ICW-Merrimount intersection, the most rational, objective and cheapest solution is to eliminate the left-turn access to ICW from Merrimount. The northbound people for whom ICW is a shortcut can proceed north on West Mercer to 78th and then access ICW at the 40th Street stoplight. It is faster timewise, when you consider the time they wait for a traffic opening on ICW. The cost of this solution is only the cost of 100 feet of barrier placed on the ICW center line at Merrimount. This would allow restoration of four-lane traffic on ICW, eliminate the existing danger of the 44th Street traffic turning onto the single lane of ICW, and provide a much safer access for both Merrimount and 44th.
I encourage citizens to write to the mayor and City Council via letter and/or e-mail (email@example.com), and to attend the City Council meeting on April 20, to express your concerns. Be heard now, with your voice and/or your presence. After a plan is adopted, it will be too late!