Island Crest Way Road-Diet Scheduled for 2012-2014

The three-year project to re-stripe and repave the roadway, and install repair sidewalks — among other fixes — is phased in two parts with a major water utility project in-between.

Mercer Island City Council directed to move forward with the Island Crest Way overlay and resurfacing project in two phases, removing the final roadblocks holding up a redesign of one of the Island's most important roadways.

After nearly a year in funding delays, the City Council voted 5-2 to allow the city to call for bids on the work, proposed to begin next June or July. Councilmembers Mike Cero and El Jahncke voted against the authorization.

"We're making a major change to our main arterial, and it's risky," Jahncke said. "Even to those who are supporters of this project, they admit that it's an experiment."

The project will eventually reduce the Island's primary north-south arterial to one lane each way with a center turning lane from SE 53rd Street near all the way up to SE 40th Street near the by the end of 2014. Planners estimate the project will cost $3,122,200 for the work to be divided into two phases scheduled for the summers of 2012 (SE 53rd Place to 86 Ave. SE) and 2014 (86th Ave SE to SE 40th Street). A related major water utility construction project will occur in 2013, also tying up parts of Island Crest Way. The improvements are intended to improve traffic flow while also dedicating bike lanes, bus zones out of the traffic lanes and numerous pedestrian improvements. 

The Council with the project in January at a planning session, but balked at the extended timeline and cost at their last meeting, deadlocking over the proposal 3-3.

Several councilmembers, before casting their votes, voiced disapproval with the length of time it had taken to finally implement the reconfiguration of Island Crest Way, saying that an issue could be "talked to death".

"It's the Northwest way," Bassett wryly observed.

Councilmember Jane Brahm said she was voting purely on the merits of what was presented before her, not on settled policy that she couldn't vote on.

"The three-lane or four-lane question was already decided," she said. "I looked back through some old newspapers from 2007 and it was being discussed back then."

The proposal was also amended on a 6-1 vote to allow bidding on phase one to include resurfacing of Island Crest Way all the way up to Merrimount Drive as an option.

Mayor Jim Pearman said he supported the public process and appreciated the input he received from the various neighborhoods consulted, especially areas in the Mid-Island that expressed concerns about speeding and safety.

"This community is sensitive to change that's put forward — And this is a change," he said. "With respect to those neighbors and their safety, it's well worth the change."

Ira B. Appelman April 15, 2011 at 03:49 PM
I ran my 2009 campaign advocating "open and honest government." For 14 years, I have been very publicly advocating that and public votes on controversial issues. One issue, as shown in one of my six different campaign signs, was opposing the road diet. I also opposed tolling on I-90 and our loss of SOV center lane access, which is also going to happen. My opponent said he hadn't decided yet on the road diet; the Council scheduled a September vote on the road diet, which was pushed to after the election so the voters would not know where the candidates stood. Whenever the City asked for comments on the road diet, a clear majority opposed it. I showed how the so-called "citizen's committee" was rigged with those who had advocated the road diet at council meetings and in the newspaper. Historically, the City Council has only put two controversial issues on the ballot -- the golf course in Pioneer Park and City Hall at Mercerdale Park. In both cases, voters rejected the council majority's position. I am a scholar by training and temperament. As a junior at MIHS, I began using the UW research libraries and have a research Ph.D. from Stanford. I have been opposing the City Council based on documentary evidence gained from attending every council meeting and record requests. If the Jerry Gropp's of the Island believe that is being a "loose cannon," then they should stop naysaying and whining in the newspaper and accept what the wise guys at the City Council decide. Ira
Charon Gooding April 16, 2011 at 05:12 PM
The word "improvement" when applied to the Merrimount mess, is a misnomer. The 'road diet' plan should be shelved once and for all. Most of the residents travel to work in their cars, not bicycles. I live mid-island and avoid E.Mercer Way as often as possible during the summer months as the cyclists definitely slow traffic. (I'm not advocating changing EMW). Let's not re-invent ICW -- we can see how well Merrimount worked out. There are other places we can use the tax dollars -- or, here's a novel idea, don't spend any more money until we have a surplus. Charon Gooding
Patrick Daugherty April 18, 2011 at 03:49 AM
Thank goodness we're finally moving forward on this sensible and safe improvement to Island Crest Way!
Harry A. Dingwall D.V.M. July 21, 2012 at 12:09 AM
I sure would like to know more about this since I am probably THE MOST effected by it! Dr. Harry A. Dingwall
Kendall Watson July 21, 2012 at 12:46 AM
Harry, the roadwork project has already started on Island Crest Way. Here's the latest update: http://patch.com/A-wkXz


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