Reporter Staff

I-90 closures begin for ‘smart highways’

Drivers traveling on I-90 between Seattle and Bellevue may notice what drivers on I-5 and SR-520 have seen for several months — new sign bridges popping up. Over the next two weeks, crews will close I-90 between I-5 and I-405 overnight as they lift 17 sign bridges into place. These new structures are the first visible part of Smarter Highways on I-90. The new traffic management system features a network of sensors and electronic signs that will provide drivers with information to move traffic more effectively.

Mercer Island real estate prices fell in April

The real estate market for April reflected lower prices for homes and condos that sold during the month, while the number of sales pending for single family homes appears to have rebounded. But prices remain significantly lower than in the past several months. Prices for both homes and condos sold on the Island during the month declined significantly from April a year ago. The median price for the 17 single family homes that closed last month was $807,000, down 21 percent from a year ago when just 11 homes sold. Just one condo sold on Mercer Island last month. Despite the continuation of relatively low interest rates, inventory has fallen. The number of listings is down from 233 last April to 185 for both condos and single family homes; a drop of more than 20 percent. Sellers of single family homes have fared better recently with the number of single home sales pending up from five to 32 for the month. (Pending sales reflect the number of homes that are in the process of being sold, but are not counted as closed or final.) The number of condo sales pending for last month was just two, down from five a year ago. At the same time, the number of condos on the market from a year ago is up by more than 18 percent, from 34 last year to 40 at present.

New doctor joins Mercer Island Orthodontic Associates

A third doctor has joined the Orthodontic Associates of Mercer Island. Dr. Kara McCulloch partners with Drs. Bill McNeill and Carol Knaup at Orthodontic Associates, located at 2817 80th Ave. S.E. An experienced professional, McCulloch received her doctoral degree in dental medicine from the University of British Columbia in Vancouver, Canada. Subsequently, in private dental practice, McCulloch focused on pediatric dentistry and care of children with special needs, and took specialty training in orthodontics at the University of Washington.

Fireworks approved for July 4 and Summer Celebration!

The City Council has approved the annual permit for Mercer Island Kiwanis to sell consumer fireworks from June 28 July 4 this summer in the Rite Aid parking lot. The fire department has reviewed the permit application and recommended approval of the permit. The Kiwanis sale stops on July 4 at 11 p.m. According to Mercer Island law, it is illegal to use fireworks on any other day besides July 4, within the timeframe of 11 a.m. to 11 p.m.

Musicians needed for Mercer Island Summer Celebration marching band

A marching band for the Island's annual Summer Celebration is being organized by Islander Bert Pound, who was appointed to the task by the city arts and special events coordinator as he felt that the parade would not be a parade without a marching band. Island musicians who would like to march in the Summer Celebration parade on July 10 should contact Pound. For those musicians who need to borrow an instrument, Pound may be able to assist in finding one. Arrangements for the loan of music, instrumentation and rehearsal locations will be made with Parker Bixby, Mercer Island High School band director, once a marching band has been assembled. Pound can be reached at (206) 232-0762.

Blair Rasmussen is Mercer Island’s Citizen of the Year

The Mercer Island City Council presented its annual Citizen of the Year award to Blair Rasmussen, executive director of the Mercer Island Boys &Girls Club and former NBA player, in honor of his service to the community’s children and families. Mayor Jim Pearman presented the award to Rasmussen at Monday’s City Council meeting. The award recognizes Rasmussen’s leadership as executive director of the Mercer Island Boys & Girls Club, where he spearheaded the development and construction of the PEAK youth facility.

Student hit by car near Mercer Island High School Monday morning

A student at Mercer Island High School and her younger brother were hit by a car just before classes began at the high school on Monday morning. The student, Blaire Burnstein, a junior, was walking near the high school with her brother Jake, a sophomore, and both were hit near the intersection of 88th Avenue S.E. and S.E. 42nd Street just before 8 a.m. on Monday. According to Mercer Island Police Detective Pete Erickson, both youth were in a crosswalk when hit.

Green Ribbon Commission organizes competition to reduce carbon emissions on Mercer Island

The Green Ribbon Commission Home Committee is organizing an Islandwide competition to reduce home and transportation carbon emissions. The committee is asking Island residents to compare their energy usage to the rest of the community for one year, starting May 1. Along the way, Islanders will learn how to implement ways to reduce their energy usage.

Mercer Island residents return their census forms at record rate

Census officials said last week that 81 percent of Mercer Islanders had completed and mailed their census survey forms as of April 22. “This is an impressive rate of return,” said Deni Luna, media specialist for the Census Bureau. Islanders have returned their forms at a higher rate than most if not all Eastside communities. At present, the return rate for Bellevue and Kirkland is 73 percent; Newcastle, 76 percent; Issaquah, 75 percent; and Sammamish, 79 percent. The national return rate to date or what is termed the “short form surveys,” which every household in the United States received, is 72 percent, the same as it was in the last official census in 2000, Luna explained. A more in-depth census survey called the “American Community Survey,” which collects more detailed information on household characteristics, will be sent out to about two percent of all Americans in a few years. The last ACS was conducted in 2003. Households are randomly selected to receive the survey. Luna said that census workers will begin going door to door to those who have yet to return their forms or have not received them, on May 1. She urges individuals to send in their forms by May 3. “It is so important that people and their communities get counted,” she explained. “These numbers determine government funding and benefits for years to come.”

Each I-90 anchor cable

$4.3 million project to replace I-90 and 520 bridge cables underway

Crews working for the Washington State Department of Transportation (WSDOT) have begun removing and replacing 30 frayed and corroded anchor cables that hold the bridges in place on Lake Washington during windstorms. The work, which will take place over the next five months, involves both the Interstate 90 Homer Hadley floating bridge and the State Route 520 Evergreen Point floating bridge. “Because these bridges are so valuable to the public, we must make sure they are always in good working order,” said Ralph Dornsife, WSDOT bridge engineer. “Together, these bridges carry more than 250,000 vehicles each day and even more commuters in buses and vanpools.”

Each I-90 anchor cable

200 electric vehicle charging stations to be installed in King County

King County Council approves program to install up to 200 public charging stations for electric vehicles The Metropolitan King County Council gave a boost to electric vehicles on Monday with its unanimous adoption of legislation increasing the number of locations where cars can charge up. “Electric vehicles are the future of transportation. We need to be prepared with the infrastructure to make them work,” said Councilmember Reagan Dunn, prime sponsor of the ordinance. “This is the first step toward a cleaner future. In three years, the council will see what the next steps should be.” “As the demand for electric cars increases, the government should be an active partner in advancing new clean vehicle technology,” said Council Vice Chair Jane Hague, a co-sponsor of the ordinance. “I’m very pleased that King County is taking a leadership role in creating a local network of charging stations.”

Raccoon distemper suspected in areas of King County

King County residents are reminded to avoid feeding wildlife, keep domestic pets away from wild animals, and be sure their pets’ vaccinations are current in response to a suspected outbreak of canine distemper in area raccoons. Samples from a raccoon captured in Bellevue have been submitted to Washington State University for disease testing, and the final results are expected early next week. Canine distemper is not transmissible to humans but is highly contagious among dogs, ferrets and certain wild animals such as raccoons, coyotes, skunks, weasels and harbor seals. Cats are not affected by canine distemper.

Seattle Public Health warns of measles case in Seattle

Public Health – Seattle & King County has learned of a confirmed case of measles in an adult woman who was visiting from British Columbia, Canada. British Columbia is currently having a measles outbreak with 44 confirmed cases. The only site locally where persons were potentially exposed to measles is the Seattle Aquarium on April 3, from 3 p.m. to 7 p.m. Because most people in the area are vaccinated against measles, the risk to the general population is low. Persons who are unvaccinated, pregnant women, infants less than six months of age and persons with weakened immune systems are at higher risk if exposed to measles and should contact their health care providers promptly if they develop an illness with a fever or an unexplained rash.

I-90 set for decade of construction: Groundbreaking ceremony is April 14

City Councilmembers listened as WSDOT and Sound Transit staff updated them on the I-90 Two-Way Transit and HOV Operations project, which has already begun. According to WSDOT and Sound Transit representatives, the project goal is “to improve regional mobility by providing safe and reliable two-way transit on I-90 between Bellevue and Seattle.” It is the prelude to light rail’s East Link (set to open in 2020) across I-90 and Mercer Island. Over the next several years, WSDOT will introduce full-time HOV lanes for eastbound and westbound traffic on the outer I-90 roadways, representatives said. The existing reversible lane operations in the center roadway will be retained until East Link light rail construction is ready to begin.

Students

Mercer Island High School goes solar

Mercer Island High School senior Harry Bolson has spearheaded the first solar energy project at his school. Last Friday, more than 100 students, faculty, city representatives and community members congregated in the MIHS Commons to celebrate the school’s new 1.61kw solar panel system. Installed on the roof of the Commons, the $8,675 panel will power the school store with 2,000 kilowatt-hours of electricity a year. But Bolson’s work, which began as his senior culminating project, doesn’t stop here. He hopes to raise $10,000 more to double the school’s solar energy system. The MIHS marketing class will take over the solar project next year after Bolson graduates. For more details, visit: www.misd.k12.wa.us.

Students

Puget Sound Council completes environmental impact statement for Transportation 2040

Transportation 2040 Final EIS is complete The Final Environmental Impact Statement (FEIS) for Transportation 2040 was completed and released by the Puget Sound Regional Council (PSRC) on March 19. The purpose of Transportation 2040 is to determine how the region can best provide the mobility required to support a growing population to the year 2040, sustain the region’s environment and economic vitality, improve system safety and efficiency, and enhance the region’s overall quality of life. The PSRC is charged with addressing critical issues such as congestion and mobility, the environment and transportation financing in the central Puget Sound region. Transportation 2040 will be integrated with VISION 2040 and the Regional Economic Strategy to accommodate the addition of 1.5 million people and 1.2 million jobs in the region by 2040. The Puget Sound region was ranked 15th among U.S. metropolitan areas in 2006 with a population of 3.5 million people.

State OKs rate increases for Puget Sound Energy

State regulators approved a small rate increase on Friday for Bellevue-based Puget Sound Energy’s (PSE) electric and natural gas customers. The three-member Washington Utilities and Transportation Commission (UTC) is allowing the company to raise electric rates by about 2.8 percent and natural gas prices by .8 percent. New rates are expected to take effect this month. Under the commission’s decision, the average PSE residential electric customer using 1,000 kilowatt-hours per month will see an increase of about $2.80, and the average natural-gas customer using 70 therms a month will pay about 87 cents more.

Rain gardens are part of school, state sustainability initiatives

The new rain garden built at Mercer Island High School is part of a larger project undertaken by the Friends of the Cedar River Watershed (FCRW) and the state superintendent of schools. The FCRW envisions a demonstration rain garden at all 82 high schools in the greater Cedar River watershed. Through the rain garden program, high school ecology teachers, school Green Teams and student clubs will learn about stormwater issues, design a demonstration rain garden and communicate its purpose to the community.

Rather than heading to sunny weather for their spring break

Mercer Island brother/sister duo test skis at national competition

It might have been spring break for school, but Alex and Samantha Edwards were still working hard as they took part in the 2010 Nastar National ski competition in Winter Rock, Colo., last weekend. The siblings, who qualified for the national event after a solid year with the Sun Valley Ski Team, spent the weekend in Colorado, where they each finished seventh in their age division of the silver bracket.

Rather than heading to sunny weather for their spring break
Brad Morse

Morse wins individual gold at 2010 Special Olympics

Islander Brad Morse has a lot to smile about. He just won a basketball gold medal in Individual Skills at the Special Olympics Winter Games… Continue reading

Brad Morse