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Island Crest Way Construction Set to Begin

Work to resurface Island Crest Way between Merrimount Drive and SE 53rd Street is set to start the week of June 25.

After years of debate in — and despite some community voices — construction on the "road diet" could begin as early as next week, according to a city press release.

Work to resurface Island Crest Way between Merrimount Drive and SE 53rd Street is set to start the week of June 25. 

The project will change Island Crest Way to a three-lane configuration: one in each direction with a center two-way turn lane. In addition to repaving and re-striping of the roadway, the scope of this project includes storm drainage repairs and improvements, curb and sidewalk work at street intersections, resurfacing portions of the existing asphalt sidewalks, and crosswalk improvements at SE 46th and SE 48th Streets.

Activities for the first two weeks of construction will include surveying, mobilization, saw cutting, and storm drainage work. Concrete curb and sidewalk work will follow in early July. Paving of the roadway is anticipated to be completed by mid-August, and all work on the project is planned to be finished by Labor Day.

City Council approved the road resurfacing contract with Issaquah-based Lakeside Industries on May 21 at a cost of $1,244,862. The overall project, Island Crest Way Resurfacing Phase 1 — which includes new street lighting, 1% for the arts and design costs — is budgeted at $1,653,797. Island Crest Way Resurfacing Phase 2, scheduled to take place in 2014, will resurface Island Crest Way from Merrimount Drive north all the way up to SE 40th Street. Phase two is currently estimated to cost approximately $1,175,000.

During construction, local residents could face delays, according to the city press release. The roadway will have one traffic lane open in each direction most of the time. Driving delays may vary from day to day, based upon work flo, and the City Hall is asking Island Crest Way users to be aware of moving construction equipment, watch for flaggers, and follow their directions.

Other street repaving projects this summer on Mercer Island include the residential streets of 88th Avenue (from SE 45th to SE 47th Streets), SE 47th Street (from Island Crest Way to 90th Avenue), and 90th Avenue (from 4600 to 5200 blocks). Paving of these streets will occur in late summer, after the resurfacing of Island Crest Way has been completed.

For more information about these projects, contact Clint Morris, Street Engineer, at clint.morris@mercergov.org.

— Information in this article is based on a City of Mercer Island press release

Jerry Gropp Architect AIA June 21, 2012 at 01:53 PM
OK- Admitting to being one of the "community voices raised in opposition", I'm hoping this project will work out well for us SouthEnders who need to drive this way. Going South of Merrimount is increasingly lovely now, hopefully going North will become better without commuter crowding. J-
Kendall Watson June 21, 2012 at 09:50 PM
What was really interesting in the bid was, for apparently the first time in a few years, it came in over staff estimates. In the City Hall staff report, the city's engineers are fretting that this could be the sign of things to come and the favorable bidding climate is ending. The council could be viewed as pretty clever, then, since they allowed the city to ask for bids on resurfacing all the way up to Merrimount — perhaps saving the city money in the longer term if bids continue to come in above estimates.
Kendall Watson June 21, 2012 at 09:51 PM
What do you think of the re-engineered intersection of ICW and Merrimount, Jerry (shown in the diagram above)?
Ira B. Appelman June 22, 2012 at 05:01 PM
Hi Kendall: Staff ALWAYS overestimates the cost of a project, so that later staff is congratulated for coming in "under budget." It's a Mercer Island misdirection ritual like the City Manager sitting with the City Council and pretending to "receive" an independent professional staff presentation that, in reality, he has edited and approved beforehand. It is GUARANTEED that bids will NOT come in above estimates in the future because staff will adjust bids accordingly. In the recent past (e.g. Sewer Lake Line), when bids came in above estimates, staff concluded they had bungled the bid, the project was reworked and rebid, and bids came in below estimates. The City Council is definitely NOT saving taxpayer funds and is only "pretty clever" in the way it deceives Mercer Islanders who aren't paying close attention. According to the slide presented by staff, the "road diet" is costing an additional $490,000. The City is using the same logic that the School District used in trying to stick us with $200 million of debt, i.e. government should accelerate spending in a recession to take advantage of lower costs. What your article doesn't mention is that the City is driving the Transportation Improvement Program into millions of dollars of debt, and the City Manager has accordingly proposed a NEW ROAD SPECIFIC TAX in his quest to "save the taxpayers money."
Kendall Watson June 22, 2012 at 05:54 PM
Hi Ira, That's an interesting point you make with respect to the Sewer Lake Line project. Wasn't it the Council that voted to reject all the bids? And then after they did that, didn't the next round of bids came in a lot lower? Why was that? That was because the staff adjusted the requirements of the project? I recall Mayor Pearman praising the council for its "foresight" in rejecting the bids as they tried to decide how to spend the $2 million in funds they had "overbudgeted" for the Sewer Lake Line Project. Good point on the TIP. Last I heard, the Transportation District idea Conrad floated earlier appears to be on the back burner — but as you observe, NOT DEAD.
Kendall Watson June 22, 2012 at 06:06 PM
"The City is using the same logic that the School District used ... i.e. government should accelerate spending in a recession to take advantage of lower costs." In my opinion, that's a pretty accurate paraphrasing of what City Finance Director Chip Corder said at the June 18 meeting ("We are spending down our fund balances", "I'm not too worried about our balance", "We are still getting great bids"). Sounds like Corder is also very optimistic on the local real estate market, forecasting an average home sales price of over $1 million by 2014 (thus boosting REET revenue, therefore increasing TIP funds).
Jerry Gropp Architect AIA June 22, 2012 at 10:32 PM
"Merrimount" has to be better than the stopgap TrafficTrap in place- for far too long. Actually it may work pretty well- after we SouthEnders get used to it. But right now it's really not as it should be to meet minimum road Safety Standards. As to Estimates per se, we architects know better than anyone just what an inexact art that really is- even with the very best of intentions. J-
Jerry Gropp Architect AIA June 26, 2012 at 02:27 PM
. Though Jeff does make a very good point here. In all my many years dealing with MI CityHall, I have never seen anything to arouse suspicion- perhaps that's because I'm a trusting person. J-
Jerry Gropp Architect AIA June 27, 2012 at 12:39 AM
. Looks like the Merrimount/Island Crest TrafficTangle has been dismantled today. Those passing through should be extra careful- as always. J-
Jerry Gropp Architect AIA June 27, 2012 at 06:23 PM
. Jeff- I guess that's a compliment. I've always felt blessed to live on Mercer Island- especially after my work all over the NorthWest- and many other parts of the world. J-
Jerry Gropp Architect AIA June 27, 2012 at 06:53 PM
. Mickey Mouse at Mirramount is gone! I went through it both ways today and marvelled at how much better it used to be in its original layout. A good try on the part of the City but no cupcake. J-
Beth Anderson June 30, 2012 at 03:44 PM
Aside from the budget considerations, we are still wondering about the slowdown of travel, the installation of crosswalk lights in random places rather than at potentially dangerous intersections and the debeautification of our main roadway. In the end it seems like the planning is missing the mark.
Kendall Watson June 30, 2012 at 10:24 PM
Due to budget considerations (the City Council balked at the $50,000 price tag) the planters in median of Island Crest Way between SE 53rd St and SE 47th St. will be removed and not replaced.
Jerry Gropp Architect AIA July 01, 2012 at 03:10 AM
. Highly dismayed are we SouthEnders to find out that North Island Crest will not become as lovely as South I C is. This is a breach of faith- promised as a part of the so-called "Road Diet". J-
Jon H July 01, 2012 at 03:26 PM
If the road diet is such a great idea, they should continue this change all the way up to the Park and Ride. All 4 lane roads should be given the same treatment. I'd hate to think that only us south-enders would be the only ones to have the privilege of experiencing the wonder that is Agenda 21 driven planning.
Jerry Gropp Architect AIA July 01, 2012 at 08:22 PM
PatchReaders- In case you're wondering, "Agenda 21" is fully explained here: http://search.aol.com/aol/search?&query=agenda+21&invocationType=tb50-ie-aolmail-tbsbox-en-us
Jerry Gropp Architect AIA July 02, 2012 at 03:03 PM
. How naive I was to think the Island Crest "Road Diet" had no political implications. I do hope this most important SouthEnd link will turn out to be both attractive as well as functional. It's highly important to the many of us Mercer Islanders living down here. J-
Mike Cero July 02, 2012 at 04:56 PM
@Ira I'd like to briefly comment on Ira's June 22, 10:01 posting and limit my comment on the process for projects going out for bid. First, Staff is absolutely committed in bringing projects in on time and under budget. This is good and we should continue to applaud Staff on their very good record of doing just that, ie on time and under budget. Additionally, from a biennial budget planning process or levy/bond request, it's also good to budget more than what the project plus 10% contingency is anticipated to cost. As a Councilmember, I much prefer to fight the battle of returning excess budgeted funds to the funding source than finding unbudgeted funds to cover a problem project. The project/estimate/bid/award process can be improved by eliminating the expense and time in hiring a consultant to estimate a project's cost. My experience is that the consultant's estimate does not add value to projects. The estimate is an extra expense and extra step in the process*. The Sewer Lake Line is an extreme example. The bids came in way over estimate, but the issue was that the bids were much more than the Council was prepared to ask the Community. A consultant's best guess estimate isn't needed because the truth is the bids are what they are. The market produces the bids. The City is not bound to bids, although we'll poison our future biding climate if we develop a reputation of not respecting the time and expense companies put into bid preparation. (Cont'd)
Mike Cero July 02, 2012 at 04:56 PM
(Cont'd from previous post) Project success should not be based on that which was budgeted or estimated, but against the bid (plus 10% contingency, plus 1% arts, plus tax, plus staff burden etc)(If we really wanted to be hard core, we would measure success based on how much of the contingency was not used.) Where the majority of tax payers** lose is when politicians (not necessarily Staff) take the difference between actual and budgeted/estimated and re-directs the difference, which is characterized as "savings," either directly or indirectly to other project not receiving the same scrutiny. *A consultant's estimate is necessary in a single bid climate or collusion is suspected. **I say majority of tax payers because the difference will be used to pay for a project that some constituents like, but a project not able to stand on its own.
Jerry Gropp Architect AIA July 02, 2012 at 09:17 PM
. Jeff- To this architect- (and most architects)- functionality as well as attractiveness really must always be combined & co-joined with "responsible expense". This was taught the very first day in UW Architecture School. J-
Jon H July 03, 2012 at 06:37 AM
Really just need to review Section 1, Chapter 7 to get a feel for the sort of 'planning' objectives around this thing. Much of the cover is provided under the flag of 'green'. But you will find data lacking for many of the initiatives that have been spawned from the agenda. For example, one section: "(c) Develop fiscal incentives and land-use control measures, including land-use planning solutions for a more rational and environmentally sound use of limited land resources; " WHO decides what these things will be? How much energy will be wasted due to cars backing up? The only number I have seen is a an average decrease in transit time, well tell me about that average during rush hour! As I stated in my original post on this, I just hope this is spread across the island so that everyone gets a taste.
Jon H July 03, 2012 at 06:39 AM
Functional first. Aesthetics and more importantly political objectives (especially those established outside the community) should be a secondary consideration.
Jerry Gropp Architect AIA July 04, 2012 at 08:30 PM
Councilman Cero- I'm glad to see that you read Patch. Hopefully you'll be able to steer the Island Crest redo to something as attractive as the South part is now. The way it's going has me worried. What's been redone (so far) is far from attractive- and no more functional. J-
Ira B. Appelman July 06, 2012 at 02:42 AM
@Mike. Just a brief response to Mike's claim that the City staff is "very good" (and thus the City Council is very good!!) with taxpayer money because projects are done "under budget." Since Islanders as a group don't pay any attention to the City Council, Islanders are vulnerable to this type of dishonest nonsense. City staff sets the budget and pads the budget so the final amount spent is almost always less than the budget. If the budget, however estimated, was an honest (i.e. unbiased) estimate of how much will eventually be spent, then the actual results would approximate a normal distribution about the estimate. That is, the results would sometimes be greater than the budget and sometimes less. How can the City suspend the laws of probability? Simple. The padded budget is almost always greater than the actual amount spent, which sets up the deceptive farce of the City Council congratulating staff (and more importantly congratulating itself, the City Council!!) for being so fiscally "responsible." An alternative measure of staff efficiency would be to compare how long it took staff to install the traffic lights in the Town Center (SE 27th and 77th Ave SE and 78 Ave SE) with how long it takes neighboring communities to install traffic lights. How did you do there, Councilmember Cero? Of course, Mike is correct in criticizing the City Council for spending the so-called "savings," which included borrowed funds, which we could have paid back to reduce debt.

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