Mercer Islanders can let their voices be heard regarding the city’s transportation projects, including those in the roadway, pedestrian and bicycle realms.
The city will accept comments concerning its Transportation Improvement Program (TIP) through June 1 on the Let’s Talk section of the city’s website. For those residents who wish to have their remarks about proposed additions to the TIP included in the materials for the May 4 public hearing and city council meeting, they can sound off by April 16. To get involved, visit https://letstalk.mercergov.org/tip2021.
Engineer Patrick Yamashita, who has worked for the city since 1999, noted that residents are always at the ready to offer their thoughts about city matters.
“There are a lot of community activists that really want to be involved in what happens on Mercer Island,” he said. “I like having strong relationships both within the city, within city government as well as in the community.”
The council will make the final decision on each project’s priority, and projects would be implemented between 2022-2027, according to a city press release. Yamashita said the six-year TIP — which is a part of all Washington cities’ operations — is required by state law to be updated every year by July 1. The draft TIP will first be presented to council at its May 4 meeting, and the final version will come before council at its June 1 meeting for a possible adoption that night.
“Mercer Island is essentially a fairly built-out community. Our street network is all in place, and so, much of our TIP is related to maintaining our existing infrastructure, maintaining our existing streets, maintaining our existing paths and sidewalks,” he said.
The priorities for the Mercer Island TIP, according to Yamashita, are assuring that the city is spending its funds first on maintaining its existing facilities and then focusing on physical improvements, like bike lanes, crosswalks or other features. The city also works closely with the school district to ensure that students have safe routes while walking to school and bus stops.
Yamashita said that judging from past comments on the TIP, residents’ interests are greatly focused on improvements regarding bike and pedestrian facilities.
He mentioned one noteworthy program that began in the early 2000s and continues to this day. Former city councilmember Dan Grausz suggested that the city construct a paved roadside shoulder along the entire loop of Mercer Way to benefit walkers and bicyclists.
“Year after year since the early 2000s, we’ve included a project in the TIP to slowly chip away at these gaps in the roadside shoulder network around the Mercer Way and we are very close to finishing that whole loop,” said Yamashita, adding that construction takes place on average every other year and they hope to have the project completed by 2027.