Misinformation on ICW/Merrimount road diet
April 8, 2009 · Updated 9:51 AM
I have read with interest the many misguided statements which have been printed in the Mercer Island Reporter about the planned revisions to ICW near Merrimount. As background, the City Council hired an engineering firm nearly two years ago to review the traffic issues along the corridor. Based upon an in-depth evaluation of the traffic flow and numerous models for traffic revisions to address throughput and safety, the engineers and the city determined that a “road diet” was the best approach. The temporary revisions were made which consist of the “road diet” configuration that currently exists along the corridor. Due to citizen concerns, the City Council put permanent revisions on hold and convened a Citizen’s Advisory Committee consisting of community members from all over the Island, not just the affected corridor, to review and discuss all available options. I was part of the Citizen’s Advisory Committee and can attest to the fact that the committee was thorough in its review of the options available, and committed to reaching the best solution for the corridor. After multiple meetings, the committee came to the same conclusion as the City Council, that a road diet is the best option.
The fact of the matter is that commuters have been driving on a road diet configuration for over a year now, and it has dramatically reduced accidents along the corridor and has had a nominal impact on traffic flow (as monitored by the engineering firm, travel times changed by less than 10 seconds along the corridor during the morning and evening rush hours). There is no conspiracy by the City Council to radically alter the corridor to the detriment of the average Mercer Island commuter. What the permanent revision will add to the current configuration is: widening the road in specific areas; pedestrian crossings; a turn lane onto 86th; landscaping; and replacement of the plastic candles at Merrimount with a more permanent and aesthetic barrier to dedicate the right-turn only lane. There is a huge misconception that the corridor will be reduced to two through lanes with a center turn lane … that option was specifically rejected by the Citizen’s Advisory Committee. In actuality, what the final revisions will result in is simply an improvement of what is already in place.