Futility

Route 16, in the gridlock of Mercer St

See that bus back there? It’s the 16, and it goes to Wallingford by way of Aurora, but it makes a detour by the Seattle Center for no reason that anyone at Metro has ever been able to adequately explain to me.

See that traffic? This section of Mercer looks like this most days during rush hour, and it’s going to look like this, probably through 2017.

What is this bus doing on Mercer? It doesn’t have to be here. It could get on Aurora just like Route 5. How bad does it have to get before Metro acknowledges this makes no sense and fixes it?

Comments

  1. Robert says

    I looked at SDOT’s website and it isn’t clear to me when Phase I or the “East Phase” of the Mercer project is going to be complete. Anyone have an idea?

    • Bruce Nourish says

      SDOT should be done constructing two-way Mercer and reopening EB Broad St by October, I think. Then they will rebuild Valley and Fairview (from Harrison to Aloha). But, the impact to the 16 does not stop with the completion of the Mercer East project. The Mercer West project will reduce Mercer to two lanes EB while they add two more lanes to make it three lanes each way. I think that goes on until 2017. So, even though EB Broad reopening will take some of the pressure off Mercer, about that time is when they will reduce Mercer to two lanes.

    • Norman says

      The Mercer project is not going to improve traffic on Mercer — it is going to make traffic on Mercer worse. Mercer is being reduced from the former 4 lanes eastbound all the way to Fairview to only 3 lanes eastbound from about Dexter to Fairview. This will just continue the current choke point where the 4 eastbond lanes have to merge into only 3. That is the permanent plan for Mercer — 3 lanes in each direction. So, eastbound traffic on Mercer is never going to get any better than what it is now.

      The Mercer project was never intended to make traffic on Mercer better. It was designed to take westbound traffic off of Valley Street and put it on Mercer, so they can reduce Valley St. to 1 lane in each direction with bike lanes and wide sidewalks, etc.

      The entire east Mercer project is one huge “road diet”. It is going make traffic on Mercer much worse than it was before.

      I thought you guys on this blog liked road diets. You are not going to complain about the terrible traffic on Mercer and Valley when this project is completed, are you?

      • Gordon Werner says

        the choke point on Mercer St isn’t the number of lanes on Mercer St. … it is the on-ramps to already over-crowded I5.

      • says

        I can’t speak for all the other transit-loving pinko commies on this blog, but…

        The only way to make general purpose traffic reliable on streets like Mercer and Denny is to blow up so much of downtown/uptown/SLU that there’s nothing left to drive to. We can’t build our way out of car congestion with road lanes but we can build a way around by fixing the broken pedestrian network (which also will make bus routes with fewer deviations more palatable), adding safe bike routes, and (now I’m really turning into a commie) turning a lane of Denny into dedicated transit ROW. Walking, transit, and biking (probably in that order) can be considerably more space-efficient, and in a corridor where congestion is practically a geographical certainty that matters a lot.

        Alternately… we could eliminate congestion on Mercer easily by removing I-5.

      • Norman says

        “the choke point on Mercer St isn’t the number of lanes on Mercer St. … it is the on-ramps to already over-crowded I5.”

        That is totally false. The onramps to I-5 back up to Fairview very rarely — only when I-5 is basically at a standstill. That happened quite a bit when they first started tolling the 520 bridge and a lot of cars were taking I-5 south past Mercer to get to the free I-90. Since some of those drivers decided to pay the 520 toll instead of getting stuck on I-5 or the I-90 bridge it has not been so bad.

        But, that is just not true that the backups on Mercer are because of the onramps to I-5. That is just flat-out wrong. The backups are at the intersections, because fewer cars can get through each green light in 3 lanes than could do so in 4. In the afternoon peak hours you will always see traffic on Mercer backed up to 5th Ave. at least, even when the onramps to I-5 are clear in both directions.

        It is lack of capacity and also all the traffic signals which are not synchronized for Mercer, partly due to the SLUT. The SLUT has made traffic on Mercer a lot worse all by itself.

      • Norman says

        People driving east on Mercer are mostly headed to I-5 to go to places like the East Side, the airport, Everett, etc. For example, I use it ofen to get from Queen Anne to Mercer Island. They are not going to walk to those places. lol And only an insignificant percentage would ever ride a bike to those destinations. You are not going to solve congestion on Mercer with sidewalks and bike lanes. The people using Mercer are mostly making long trips, which they just are not going to do by walking or riding bikes.

        Besides, the main point of the Mercer project was to make Valley St. a lot “nicer” for pedestrians and bicyclists. So, that is going to be done. You think that is going to have any impact on Mercer St. traffic at all? The people using Mercer in the pm peak are not going on trips on which they could walk or ride a bike.

      • Matt the Engineer says

        “The onramps to I-5 back up to Fairview very rarely — only when I-5 is basically at a standstill.” As someone that drove this commute for three years, either you’re mistaken or lying. Eastbound the bottleneck is the I-5 onramps all the way to the Seattle Center.

      • Zed says

        “The SLUT has made traffic on Mercer a lot worse all by itself.”

        The streetcar has no signal priority at Mercer, it has to wait just like any other traffic crossing Mercer. It has no more effect on Mercer than any other cross traffic. You want to know what makes traffic on Mercer so bad? All the effing cars!

      • says

        “The onramps to I-5 back up to Fairview very rarely”

        Only because the lights at Fairview are effectively the city’s largest on ramp metering system.

      • says

        Norman, you’re absolutely right: the traffic on Mercer (unlike on Denny and many of the other streets) isn’t traffic that will mode-switch, it’s long-haul traffic. It’s impossible to relieve traffic congestion on Mercer without extreme measures. One would be blowing up major parts of SLU to build a stupid east-west freeway. Another would be blowing up I-5 and waiting — it wouldn’t take too long for people to adjust their travel patterns.

        Unless we do one of these extreme things, Mercer will be a zoo for drivers. It may be more or less of a zoo, but it will be a zoo. So let it be one. Just give people making local trips on foot and on bike a reasonable alternate route, and provide safe, direct routes across Aurora, and suddenly the buses don’t have to divert to Seattle Center and waste their time on the Mercer Mess.

      • Norman says

        “The streetcar has no signal priority at Mercer, it has to wait just like any other traffic crossing Mercer. It has no more effect on Mercer than any other cross traffic. You want to know what makes traffic on Mercer so bad? All the effing cars!”

        It certainly did, northbound, when it was first installed. Perhaps that has been changed. But, before the SLUT went in there was NO traffic signal at all at that street (Terry?). Traffic on Mercer NEVER had to stop at Terry — there were stop signs at Terry for traffic at Mercer from either direction. The traffic signal at Terry was installed ONLY because of the SLUT. And it was activated by the SLUT. But, even if it no longer turns green immediately when the SLUT arrives at Mercer, it still stops traffic on Mercer, which contributes to the backups on Mercer. I have often been stopped on Mercer at Terry, with no cars between me and the onramps — in other words, without that light at Terry, traffic could have continued unimpeded onto the onramps. But, traffic was stopped by the red light at the new signal at Terry which never existed before the SLUT, and which was installed only because of the SLUT.

      • Norman says

        “The onramps to I-5 back up to Fairview very rarely”

        “Only because the lights at Fairview are effectively the city’s largest on ramp metering system.”

        Partly true. However, they could have had four lanes of Mercer crossing Fairview to the onramps, but they had the far right lane, right turn only, so the far right lane could not be used to get to the onramps, limiting the number of cars which could cross Fairview to the onramps during each green light. Now, that will be permanent. In other words they could have allowed a lot more cars to cross Fairview to the onramps during each green light than they did.

        And, as I wrote before, cars back up at other intersections before Fairview. Again, the more cars on Mercer which can get through an of the green lights at one time, the less Mercer is backed up. And more cars can get through an intersecion in four lanes than in three. Reducing eastbound Mercer from four to three lanes east of Dexter absolutely makes traffic on Mercer worse than it would be with four lanes. That is just common sense.

      • Norman says

        ““The onramps to I-5 back up to Fairview very rarely — only when I-5 is basically at a standstill.”

        As someone that drove this commute for three years, either you’re mistaken or lying. Eastbound the bottleneck is the I-5 onramps all the way to the Seattle Center.”

        You are the one who is mistaken. You don’t have any idea what you are talking about. Just this afternoon, about 3:50, I used the Mercer offramp from I-5 to get back to Queen Anne. I had a perfect view of the onramps to I-5 from Mercer and they were flowing freely — not backed up at all. Yet, when I got to 5th and Mercer, Mercer was backed up PAST 5th Ave. So, as usual, Mercer was all backed up even though the onramps to I-5 were not backed up at all.

        You can even check this out on the city’s traffic cams, as I do occasionally. I just looked at them at 5:30 this afternoon, and Mercer was backed up at least a block west of Aurora (the cam does not show you how far west it is backed up) while the onramps from Mercer to I-5 were not backed up one bit. In fact the light at Fairview was green for traffic on Mercer and no cars were crossing that intersection, because they were all stopped at a red light west of Fairview.

        Look at these two cams to see what I mean:

        http://www.seattle.gov/trafficcams/aurora_mercer.htm

        That Shows Traffic on Mercer west of Aurora (when the cam is aimed in its normal direction. Sometimes these cans get screwed up and show something completely uselsee).

        http://www.seattle.gov/trafficcams/fairview_mercer.htm

        This cam shows the intersection of Mercer and Fairview looking east, so you can see the on ramps.

        AT about 5:50, as I am looking at those cams now, Mercer is backed up west of Aurora as far as you can see from the cam, and the onramps to I-5 are not backed up even a little bit. Check out these cams during pm peak hours and you will see what I mean.

        The onramps to I-5 do NOT cause the backups on Mercer, usually.

    • ECTTS says

      I moved here from the Northeast. Traffic in Seattle, and particularly on Mercer, is a clusterfuck I cannot believe. Why a city would undertake a huge construction project to WORSEN traffic is beyond me. The degree of civic incompetence Displayed by the DOT on a daily and certainly a weekend basis is breathtaking.

      I’m sure it’s not news, but Seattle drivers already suck (don’t argue; it’s incontrovertible), forcing them to deal with additional decisions is simply not fair.

      You guys can say what you want about the East Coast, but at least public transit there actually transports the people to places that they want to go to and places that they need to go to. And, road construction is usually undertaken with the idea of improving traffic flow.

  2. Jrd says

    As a 16 rider from downtown to N Greenlake, it would be OK, if it would just turn _left_ off of Mercer, and get onto Aurora by way of Valley. It’s the whole loopy thing it does there that drives me bonkers.

    • says

      I think in heavy traffic the three-rights loop is considered a faster/easier way to get NB on Aurora than making left turns off of Mercer and then Dexter.

      I don’t know whether that’s true, but it’s at least plausible. But I have no idea why the loop takes Dexter all the way south to John instead of immediately turning right on Republican, particularly when there are no stops until you’re north of Mercer again. There’s probably some kind of reason, and it might not even be Metro’s fault exactly, but it seems pretty silly.

      • Beavis McGee says

        The Dexter entrance to Aurora can’t accomodate buses – between the arc of the turn, raised curbs, and the need for quick acceleration to 40mph it’s unsafe.

      • d.p. says

        Bullshit, bullshit, bullshit. That’s *precisely* how the 30 got on Aurora back when the Fremont Bridge was closed to buses (2006-2007).

      • David L says

        Using NB Dexter to Valley might be a marginal improvement, but Mercer itself is really the problem. You may feel the loop is infuriating, but it takes less than a minute. The buses need to get away from Mercer by using the 5/358 route out of downtown.

        It will remove some connectivity from Seattle Center, but the price we pay for that connectivity is too high.

    • Kevin R says

      The 16 used to go exactly that way. The loopy thing was intended as an improvement because of how difficult it was for the bus to get over from the right lane on 5th N to the left lane on Mercer to make the Dexter turn. When 5th and Mercer are gridlocked the loop makes sense but it doesn’t make any sense whatsoever for it to make the detour all the time.

      • says

        Yep, it’s actually much faster now (relatively speaking): in heavy traffic, you are stuck on Mercer for less traffic-light cycles turning R than L…

  3. Lack Thereof says

    No, no, no, Bruce, you just don’t understand. That bus has to be there, because once upon a time Seattle Transit had a bus-base there. That base has been closed for only a quarter-century.

    The old Seattle Transit streetcar lines have been gone for much, much longer, but we’re still struggling to get our allegedly “more flexible” buses moved off of those those old streetcar lines – see the abandoned QA/CD restructure.

    That route will never move because in King County, we plan our transit system around old infrastructure that has been long-since decommissioned, not current conditions or potential demand.

  4. Mark Y. says

    There will always be 1 or 2 people from Wallingford and points north that will cry foul about how it’s so important to have a one seat ride to the Seattle Center. It’ll never go away. No matter how little used it is, no matter how much of a delay it causes for everyone else.
    Maybe in 2014 when Metro runs out of money, the entire route will get cut.

    • Kevin R says

      I think one of the big objections to Metro’s proposed rerouting of North Seattle routes proposed last year was that the loss of the 26 would leave folks in Wallingford and Green Lake stuck with the 16 as the main route Downtown. If Metro can improve the reliability of the 16 they might get further with the proposed reroutes. A route that followed 3rd to Battery and then to Aurora with stops at Aurora/Denny and Aurora/Mercer still gets folks within blocks of Seattle Center while also providing better service to the Amazon folks east of Aurora.

    • Chris Stefan says

      If I recall correctly before all of the Aurora service was combined into the 358 the 6 used to make the deviation to the Seattle Center and the 16 was an express that stayed on Aurora between Denny and Bridge Way.

  5. Dana R says

    I cannot tell you how much time I have spent on the Aurora overpass of Mercer counting the signals on Dexter from the time the 16 makes the right off of 5th. It has been taking a average of 15 minutes for the 16 to travel that one city block. And there is no end in sight.
    Routing the 16 down Aurora makes way too much since.

  6. Brent says

    Since route cuts, by law, are based on productivity, (but only upon follow-up council action) and bus stops are also starting to be decided legislatively, maybe we can have stop cuts, by law, decided based on productivity.

  7. stevesliva says

    If they could move the 4->3 lane merge to after Dexter, it might help. Rather than a right turn lane, where the bus is ends up being more of an “oh shit” merge lane.

    But I guess as construction continues, it’s pretty unlikely for that lane to stay as a right turn-only lane at all.

  8. says

    I took that bus once to get up to Wallingford. The traffic wasn’t as bad as in the photo, but there was definitely a point where I thought the automated stop announcements were broken because it had been five minutes since the last stop and nothing. Glad to find I’m not the only one who thinks it’s mad. But then, I was a tourist, and that was hardly the only manner in which I thought Metro was broken.

  9. says

    Do you lose your right to call yourself a transit supporter if you have given up hope of Metro ever fixing itself on it’s own and until massive changes are forced on the organization you DON’T support new revenue options to save it?

    Am I now a Republican b/c I want to ‘Starve the Beast’?

    • Nathanael says

      Do you wanna do the same thing to WSDOT *first*? If so, then you’re consistent.

      Or do you have a double standard, for instance where you want to “starve the beast” of the public transportation agency, but are happy to pour money into the Columbia River Crossing, the Deep Bore Tunnel, and various poorly-planned roads for SOVs?

      In that case, your mentality would consistent with the Republican leaders, who want to “starve the beast” when it comes to *some* programs — but when it comes to oil company subsidies, Department of Homeland Security Theater, $500,000,000,000 for the military budget even after we lost the last several wars and don’t seem to know what the hell we’re doing and most of the money is going into military contractor pork — then they’re happy to make government bigger and bigger and bigger and bigger.

      • Matthew Johnson says

        http://www2.seattle.gov/ethics/eldata/filings/campaignhome.asp?elcycle=el11a&campuni=292

        You’ll see my name.

        And I don’t want all Public Transit to be starved until they get their head out of their ass, just Metro. Were you paying no attention to what happened with the complete evisceration of the Fall Reorg? Do the words ‘Route 42′ mean anything to you? How about the topic at hand? Does reading the OP make you think Metro should be trusted with more of our money? That they are good stewards?

      • says

        A lot of the issues with Metro stem from being a county department under the County Council. For example, the 42 was saved from the September service cuts because the County Council said so. Oftentimes, Metro ends up not bringing things before the council because politics trump good service planning (or so it seems). The King County Council isn’t going to approve something that pisses people off, and major changes tend to piss people off.

      • says

        I agree. And the only way I can think of to get the Council to change the situation is to hold tight to the pursestrings until they do. As it stands I will refuse to vote for more money to Metro and encourage all who will listen to me to do the same until she is taken out from underneath the direct purview of the County Council.

        As someone who cares about the long term viability of the system its the only option I can see right now.

      • says

        There are a lot of people who would agree with you. Metro, at minimum, needs to be freed from the Council approving every change. Ideally, we need to move to a model similar to how the RTA in Illinois works – a parent agency controlling the purse strings of several local authorities covering a limited geographic area.

        Heck, shove Metro under Sound Transit – they already run almost all of ST’s service, anyhow, and many have noted that ST has largely assumed the spirit and role that Metro had until the merger with King County in the early 90s.

      • Mike Orr says

        The Council didn’t save the 42 this time. It stayed its demise by a year, believing that 42 riders are disproportionately non-English speaking, and that Metro should outreach to them directly and explain what alternative routes exist and how to use them, before cutting the route. That may be questionable but we don’t have to quibble about a year of reprieve. What matters is a 20+-year route change that will affect many times more riders. The other 19 years of service hours will be available unless the Council reverses itself next year.

  10. Matt the Engineer says

    To add to the pain and frustration: keep in mind how expensive it is to have a bus stuck in traffic, not only in riders’ productivity and for the cost of the bus and driver, but in the loss of that service. Every time you double the speed of a bus you double its capacity and double its frequency as well (since for the same bus hours you can run that route twice). That three-for-one benefit becomes a three-for-one loss when we cut the average speed in half.

  11. Mark Dublin says

    I got justly corrected the other day for directing minor matters to the King County Council, so will try to keep this as calm as possible.

    Since the Council considers it within its purview to adjust bus stops, a rational reroute on the 16 shouldn’t upset anybody there, elected or staff. Worth a try.

    Transit-wise and otherwise, recalling the Municipality of Metropolitan Seattle and particularly its founder Jim Ellis, I really hope I live to see the day when becoming a Republican will once again mean taking a positive and level-headed approach to every aspect of public life. Especially transit.

    I think that it would do the Democratic Party good if reasonable people had a credible threat to vote Republican as a sane alternative. “Still better than a Republican” is a pretty low bar to clear right now.

    Mark Dublin Founder of Democrats for Improved Republicans

    • Brent says

      Mark,

      One thing we are lucky to have here in the US&A is multiple parties, including the Green Party. One thing we don’t have is a voting system that allows much competition, much less diversity of representation. Just look at the European Parliament to see how life could be under a better voting system.

      Sorry if this has nothing to do with the Seattle Center knot in the 16.

      • says

        The European Parliament is a poor example. National level of European countries are much much better with regards to representative democracy. Election of European Parliament members is nearly as bad as our Electoral College, just in a different way. And then the operation of the EU Parliament is an absolute sham.

    • David L says

      As the corrector, I hasten to clarify that I have no issue bringing minor matters before councilmembers! My correction was only directed at what I felt was an apocalyptic tone. This is exactly the sort of issue which delayed, frustrated Wallingford riders should be writing their councilmembers about — civilly.

      Also, in my opinion, this is a much more severe problem than the occasional failure to open the back door.

    • Nathanael says

      “I think that it would do the Democratic Party good if reasonable people had a credible threat to vote Republican as a sane alternative. “Still better than a Republican” is a pretty low bar to clear right now.”

      Absoutely true. But the Republican Party is a lost cause. A strong challenge from some other party, the Green Party or the Libertarian Party or the Natural Law Party or something, would have the same effect.

      Given our archaic first-past-the-post election system, however, that can’t happen until the Republican Party is shrunk to irrelevance within a given district. *Then* you can make a real second-party challenge.

      We really should reform the election system to something featuring what’s known as “propotional representation”, like all countries with modern Constitutions have.

      • Matt the Engineer says

        I hear this come up occasionally, and it’s a great idea. The small roadblock is convincing a supermajority of people from the two major parties that benefit from this system to give away their power. Good luck with that.

        Anyway, back to solvable problems. Mercer’s a real mess, isn’t it?

      • josh says

        Proportional representation in the U.S. is a difficult sell because it requires admitting that we’re voting for parties instead of people. First-past-the-post maintains the illusion that every election is a horse race among individual candidates while ignoring partisan implications.

      • Mike Orr says

        “The Republican Party is a lost cause.”

        Both parties have changed dramatically over the past 150 years. There’s no reason to expect they won’t change again. The coalition between the 1%, religious right, and foreign interventionists is fragile, and won’t remain as-is forever.

      • says

        It’s not just proportional representation that we need. I think most legislatures with proportional representation are only partly proportional — there are still people elected to represent their district.

        And for these offices, and for executive offices where we really are voting for specific people, and for judicial appointments, we should use IRV. (Or one of the other good voting systems that allow people to vote their conscience, or at least something near it. There are several good systems out there with various theoretical tradeoffs. IRV, among them, has the advantages that it’s easy to explain by analogy to existing runoff systems, and it’s been implemented enough times that people can recognize it won’t destroy the social order.)

        I think we should also recognize that open primaries are a step in the right direction. One way we can be assured they’re a good thing is that the parties hate them.

  12. Breadbaker says

    Anyone who wanted a one-seat ride from Seattle Center to Wallingford would know either take the 30 or to walk down Mercer or Denny to Dexter and take the 26, or just pick up the 5 or the 358 on Aurora. There are a lot of choices none of which require the 16 to sit in gridlock on Mercer. I’ve fallen asleep on that bus on 5th and awakened feeling the complete lack of movement half an hour later wondering if I’d slept through the entire route to Northgate only to find I was still between the QFC and the Gates Foundation.

    • Brent says

      Some day, the trip between lower Wallingford and downtown will be accomplished by walking, biking, or a short bus ride to U District Station. The 16′s days are numbered, albeit somewhere in the 1000′s.

      • David L says

        I doubt it. For that to work, the bus trip to the U-District would have to be sped up massively. That would require bus-only lanes. Taking away people’s parking (west of Latona) or car traffic lane (east of Latona) would be met with a political nuclear explosion.

        If the 16 were to run straight in along Aurora, but there were no changes along 45th, the 16 would often get downtown from Wallingford before the 44 would get to Brooklyn Station.

      • Chris Stefan says

        I have to agree with David, the 44 does not provide a meaningful connection to LINK. Unless the City has the guts to put in BAT lanes on 45th there is little hope of fixing that problem.

        Bus bulbs and stop reduction have helped some, but the 44 is still barely faster than walking between Brooklyn and Stone.

      • Geoff says

        Some day, we will have a subway running north under 5th Avenue through QA and into Fremont, where it will intersect with a crosstown subway that will take people to Wallingford.

        /dreaming

      • Mike Orr says

        The city does have 45th improvements scheduled next year. They say it’ll improve the 44′s throughput by some small percentage; I don’t remember if it’s 10% or 20%. Every little bit helps.

  13. Chris Stefan says

    Aurora is simply a very pedestrian hostile environment for most of its length. The stretch between the bridge and Denny is particularly unpleasant due to high-speed traffic and the lack of pedestrian crossings. The Mercer underpass is little better as it is dark, with a narrow sidewalk, and has a large amount of heavy traffic.

    Move the 16 to Aurora and you lose all of the passengers who currently get on or off along the East Side of the Seattle Center.

    Post-tunnel Aurora will be a much better option than it is now, but that is still a few years off in the future.

    • David L says

      The passengers from Seattle Center E to downtown can take the 3/4, which will increase in frequency with the restructure.

      The passengers from Seattle Center E to the south part of Wallingford can walk a couple of blocks and take the new 32.

      The only passengers left in the cold are those riding from Seattle Center E to Greenlake and SSCC. There aren’t that many of those — certainly not enough to warrant the severe reliability penalty the Seattle Center E deviation causes.

  14. says

    Could more density be the answer?

    Obviously not…since these cars are willing to wait hours in traffic so they can get back to their single family homes with a yard and flowers.

    • Matt the Engineer says

      Hey, I used to be in one of those cars! Waiting in line so I could get back from my terrible suburban office park job to my walkable city home…

    • David L says

      Got it. People can’t live where it’s dense, because they can’t afford it, because there’s not enough housing in dense areas. So they have to sit in traffic to get to somewhere they can afford to live. The solution to this problem is clearly to avoid building more housing in dense areas.

      You’re a model of crystal-clear logic.

    • says

      Only takes me 25 minutes to get to my semi-suburban/affordable-in-city “single-family” (shared) home by transit. Meanwhile, it takes at least 25 minutes to pick up the car and drive. Hmm….

  15. Alex says

    Thanks Bruce for writing this – I’ve commented on here before about the terrible reliability of the 3/4 (and the 16) along 5th Ave N related to Mercer traffic and box-blocking drivers. Hopefully Metro will pay attention and make the needed adjustments.

    I did notice that the lane diagrams for 5th Ave N post-Mercer reconstruction show the second from right NB lane (the “Straight/Right” lane approaching Mercer) becoming a straight-only lane, as the new bidirectional Mercer doesn’t need two lanes turning from NB 5th Ave N. This change will modestly help the 3/4 as buses are often stuck behind right-turning cars in the current lane setup.

    Now, if we could close the NB 5th Ave N bus stop outside the Gates Foundation, that would really help the 3/4.

    • David L says

      Part of the problem for the 3/4 is that bus stop, but another big part is the placement of the trolley wire. It’s a bit too far to the right. Bus drivers can often work their way over to the far left lane of NB 5th, which helps a lot with getting past the box-blockers. But because the wire is to the right of the center of the middle lane, that’s *really* pushing the distance between the wire and the bus, and you have to go slowly (and with great nervousness) and hope you don’t lose your poles. I only did it at the very worst box-blocking moments.

      • Breadbaker says

        There have been comments here before about the 5th and Mercer intersection, and why box blockers are allowed there everyday. Is it true there is no camera at the intersection and is there some reason why there isn’t a cop there to direct traffic from 4-6 at least every afternoon? It’s getting to the point where it is also blocking the box at Dexter everyday, which is my usual commute by bus or bike.

      • Alex says

        I wish SPD would put a cop at 5th N/Mercer, oreven better, a traffic enforcement team. You could easily conduct an entire traffic stop while the offending vehicle was stuck in the gridlock.

        There is no red light camera there – my guess is that SDOT/SPD don’t want to do anything to a road they are going to reconfigure soon.

  16. the358 says

    My out-of-town cousin came to visit yesterday and got on Mercer trying to leave the Seattle Center area, not knowing what a complete disaster it is. That street should come with warning signs for unsuspecting tourists. It took her 10 minutes to go 2 blocks.

  17. Greenman 1 says

    I take the 16 and that detour completely sucks. It took me 2hrs to commute from Factoria to Wallingford. The 217 was missing for multiple pick up times and then the 16 just gets, well stuck in traffic. Makes my own chair, A/C and a stereo seems more appealing. Come on Metro!

  18. sambrag says

    I’m disappointed in not only King County Metro, but in the King County Council, as well. I’m disappointed that we can’t get our act together, even after knowing that we need to get our act together, for the last two years.

    I’m not one to complain, but this is fucking crazy.

  19. transitrider says

    Buses should go by the Seattle Center, at least on weekends. It’s called “destination” routing! Yet, the #358 stops several blocks away – and downhill from – the Woodland Park Zoo, forcing people to trudge over to a sync-less transfer to the #5. Or, if they know better, perhaps the #5 at N. 105th. Instead, the SB #358 should be stopping at 50th, but no…

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