Improving sight lines and safety for motorists, bicyclists and pedestrians is paramount to the city as it proceeds in purchasing a boarded-up and vacant residential property at the bustling intersection of Southeast 40th Street and Island Crest Way. The city plans to demolish the uninhabitable home and clear the site.
At the Mercer Island City Council’s July 6 meeting, council approved a resolution to authorize the city manager or chief of administration to sign the purchase and sale agreement, in addition to giving the nod to a budget-amending ordinance to appropriate funds for the acquisition of the property.
Using money from the city’s street fund, the price tag for the right-of-way acquisition sits at $1.175 million before closing costs, which brings the total amount to $1.193 million.
According to the resolution, the city has adopted a comprehensive plan in compliance with the Growth Management Act to strategize in managing property access along arterial streets in order to preserve their function. With the 4004 Island Crest Way property, trees and fences restrict sight lines for northbound and westbound traffic at the intersection. Also, the location of the property’s driveway negatively impacts traffic patterns at the intersection.
According to the city, there have been 12 accidents at the intersection in the last five years. Of the dozen, the most severe was one minor-injury accident.
“Purchasing this property gives the city needed land to improve safety at one of the Island’s busiest intersections. I’m glad we were able to secure this property now so we can best address our infrastructure needs in the future,” said City Manager Jessi Bon.
Councilmember Salim Nice echoed Bon’s sentiments, adding that cars are often queued up through the school intersection near Northwood Elementary and Mary Wayte Swimming Pool and students use the area as a safe route to school.
“It’s a critical intersection for the city. All credit to the staff for the long-range vision of what the future improvements of that intersection might be,” he said.
Jason Kintner, Public Works chief of operations, added that acquiring the property will provide for future capacity improvements at the intersection, and that removal of the house, vegetation and fence will be vital to enhancing sight lines and safety for all. According to the city, a sidewalk upgrade is also part of the plan.
Bon anticipates the city closing on the property around the first week of August, but the purchasing documents allow her the flexibility to close sooner if the necessary next steps are completed. Kintner noted that a short-term plan would include removing the house and cleaning up the property soon after closing to improve sight lines. In the early fall, staff will return to council with an appropriation request to complete the remaining work.
City attorney Bio Park said the short-term plans don’t require amendments to the city code or comprehensive plan, but the city may consider amendments depending on how the council wishes to utilize the property in the future.