Mercer Island Station bus transfers, opposed by Mercer Island City Council

On Monday, the City of Mercer Island City Council voted to sue Sound Transit and the Washington State Department of Transportation.

On Friday, the Sound Transit Board of Directors returned the favor.

MOTION NO. M2017-20

A motion of the Board of the Central Puget Sound Regional Transit Authority authorizing legal action against the City of Mercer Island, the Washington State Department of Transportation (a potential non-adverse defendant), and other governmental entities deemed necessary or appropriate, to confirm Sound Transit’s and the Washington State Department of Transportation‘s authority to take all lawful actions to construct and operate light rail on Interstate 90 or on Mercer Island between Seattle and Bellevue as approved by voters; and to enforce the 1976 Memorandum of Agreement and 2004 Amendment governing Interstate 90 between Seattle and Bellevue.

BACKGROUND:

On February 13, 2017, the City of Mercer Island enacted Ordinance No. 17-05 and Ordinance No. 17-06, purporting to establish a six-month moratorium “on the acceptance, processing, and/or approval of applications for (1) building permits… [that] relate to the siting development of any essential public facility; and (2) for any development or construction activity of any type, including the installation or removal of any structure or the removal, demolition or modification of any access ramp, that is inconsistent with, or related to a use other than, the existing public highway use of the Mercer Island I-90 Right of Way in any manner….”

The ordinances purport to prevent Sound Transit from obtaining permits from the City to begin construction of the East Link light rail project in June 2017. The ordinances also purport to prevent the Washington State Department of Transportation (WSDOT) from performing the work necessary to close the Interstate 90 center roadway to allow East Link construction to begin on Mercer Island.

The City of Mercer Island also authorized litigation against Sound Transit and WSDOT to prevent closure and transfer of the Interstate 90 center roadway to Sound Transit for light rail use. The 1976 Memorandum of Agreement and 2004 Amendment signed by the cities of Mercer Island, Seattle, and Bellevue, and by King County/Metro, and Sound Transit expressly permit the conversion of the Interstate 90 center roadway to light-rail use after new HOV lanes replace the center roadway. The ordnances’ enforcement will, among other things, increase construction costs and delay the start and completion of East Link construction.

On February 16, 2017, the City of Mercer Island notified Sound Transit that it is suspending the shoreline substantial development permit issued for the East Link project in July 2016. The intended effect of the suspension is to prohibit all East Link construction on Interstate 90 within 200 feet of the Mercer Island shoreline and extending to the midway points of the Homer Hadley and East Channel bridges between Seattle and Bellevue. The suspension will, among other things, increase construction costs and delay the start and completion of East Link construction.

Sound Transit believes that the Mercer Island ordinances and the suspension of the shoreline substantial development permit are unlawful and should be challenged in appropriate legal, equitable or administrative proceedings.


MOTION:

It is hereby moved by the Board of the Central Puget Sound Regional Transit Authority that legal counsel is authorized to commence legal action (including administrative appeals) in courts and/or administrative tribunals against the City of Mercer Island, WSDOT (a potential non-adverse defendant), and other governmental entities deemed necessary or appropriate, in order to challenge the applicability, validity, and enforceability of: (1) City of Mercer Island Ordinances Nos. 17-05 and 17-06; (2) the City of Mercer Island’s suspension of the shoreline substantial development permit issued to Sound Transit for the East Link project, and (3) future ordinances, regulations, or any other action by the City of Mercer Island affecting Sound Transit’s or WSDOT’s ability to construct and operate the East Link light rail project or close the Interstate 90 center roadway, including attempts to deny issuance of additional permits or approvals. Legal counsel is further authorized to file claims and seek all writs, orders, judgments and other relief against the City of Mercer Island or other governmental entities deemed beneficial, necessary, or appropriate to implement the East Link light rail project, including, without limitation, rulings to enforce the 1976 Memorandum of Agreement and 2004 Amendment governing Interstate 90 between Seattle and Bellevue.

Board Member Roger Millar, WSDOT Secretary, abstained, due to WSDOT being named as a potential co-defendant in the counter-suit.

Board Member Claudia Balducci, whose county council district (#6) contains Mercer Island, voted No. Balducci hoped for a de-escalative rather than an escalative approach.

The ability of SOV traffic on Island Crest Way to access I-90 West via the flyunder ramp that connects to the left-hand lane, slated to become an HOV lane in June, remains a point of deep disagreement. The ramp carries most of the Mercer Island traffic going to Seattle.

Sound Transit sent a letter to WSDOT in 2005, supporting allowing SOV access through the HOV lane. The Federal Highway Administration said no.

46 Replies to “Sound Transit to Sue Mercer Island”

  1. I hope ST is successful in their lawsuit and the Merced island one, and the city’s parks, police, and fire budgets are adjusted appropriately to pay the legal fees resulting from this kerfuffle.

      1. I agree 100% with that. Stick it to ’em. Voters decided and this IS class warfare.

        Good thing is Sound Transit has very good lawyers and a lot of political goodwill right now. Mercer Island should lose ALL King County grant funding – just cut them off and spend the money researching a light rail end run through Renton.

        If Trumpers are going to use grants to get their way, so should we. We’ll see how long until Mercer Island starts bowing to King County Executive Dow Constantine begging for mercy.

        GO! FIGHT! WIN!

    1. Good. I hope Mercer Island is hit hard with penalties. Actual damages and punitive damages. Bankrupt them for filing frivolous lawsuits and creating delays through illegal denial of permits.

      1. But first, get a declaratory order that Sound Transit can finish the work while the lawsuits are ongoing.

  2. I hope everyone realizes that it’s possible for both the Board majority and Boardmember Balducci to be “right” in this case. Litigation of any kind carries high risks to both parties, mostly in the realm of increased cost and delays to East Link, so while ST appears more likely to prevail in the end it could come at huge cost. A de-escalating approach could avoid that. But as Brent points out the major issue (closure of the Island Crest Way ramp to SOV traffic) isn’t being addressed at all and HAS NOT BEEN ANALYZED UNDER THE R8A OR EAST LINK EIS’S. That is ST’s biggest weakness and while the remedy would likely be a Supplemental EIS, that takes time.

    1. I think Mercer Island pretty clearly closed that door.

      Balducci is “right” in that her vote wasn’t needed, so there’s more downside than upside for her in a yes vote that would further antagonize her constituents. But she also knows, I’m quite certain, that her talk of ‘de-escalation’ is politically necessary but profoundly unserious. Mercer Island wants war, pretending to play nice and negotiate now makes now sense.

      1. Negotiating if you have a very strong hand makes no sense. ST has a strong hand with respect to access to the HOV lanes and East Link.

        ST, however, does not have a strong hand with respect to the defective EIS WSDOT did for the Two Way HOV project that doesn’t consider the impacts of diverting the major arterial for the island.

        So it makes sense to try to settle, MI gives up its weak claim to HOV access in exchange for not litigating the EIS issue and getsmitigation money for improving access to the 76th ramp, or gets a new right hand ICW ramp.

      2. Negotiating if you have a very strong hand makes no sense. ST has a strong hand with respect to access to the HOV lanes and East Link.

        ST, however, does not have a strong hand with respect to the defective EIS WSDOT did for the Two Way HOV project that doesn’t consider the impacts of diverting the major arterial for the island.

        So it makes sense to try to settle, MI gives up its weak claim to HOV access in exchange for not litigating the EIS issue and gets mitigation money for improving access to the 76th ramp, or gets a new right hand ICW ramp.

      3. Since the negotiations have all been behind closed doors we have no idea if an impasse has really been reached or if the MI City Council is simply bowing to the very vocal group of residents (probably a minority) who are pissed and wanted to litigate a year ago. Or both. We also don’t now both sides positions and what’s been offered or not offered. Without that information it’s hard to handicap things except to point out that litigation carries high risks and therefore continued negotiation is arguably beneficial for all parties.

        As an aside, being a Mercer Island resident I’m appalled at the situation and don’t think litigation is likely to obtain the things many people on MI want, but at this point my voice is being drowned out. I understand why litigation is proceeding even though I disagree with it.

      4. Of course she’s right. And the solution is to close the HOV to vehicles taller than ten feet, split it from the main lanes about SE80th, elevate it about five feet by the existing merge point and move it into the shoulder areas between the westbound main lanes and the reversible lanes, extend the undercut of the Island Crest on-ramp and come up between the HOV and the main lanes somewhat west of where it does today, merging into the main lanes in the same way it does now.

        Then bring the HOV back down to regular road grade and merge with the main lane roadway about the lid portal.

        A new northside lane might also work but would require left turns across traffic and be pretty tight in the trench.

        In any case, Island Crest is the main way that people from down Island access the freeway. It has to have direct access westbound.

      5. Jason, and of course “litigation” comes quickly to mind for a large number of your neighbors, doesn’t it?

      6. Richard, there’s insufficient space between the support columns for the 76th Ave SE overpass and the abutment for the MI Lid to safely do the S maneuver required, at least at freeway speeds.

        Yes unfortunately some of my neighbors jump right to litigation. Others prefer to negotiate first but constantly remind everyone they might litigate, which hardly seems like negotiating in good faith. Others are appalled we’d even consider slowing down East Link.

      7. Jason, thanks for the technical info. I would point out that the northbound HOV “wiggle” through the I-5/I-405/SR 518 interchange by Southcenter has some fairly sharp curves, so perhaps it’s not impossible to put a lower speed limit on the separated roadway.

        I do agree that it’s a potential problem, though.

        Extending the undercut for the westbound Island Crest to Main Lanes ramp and threading the HOV to the south of it IS the most elegant solution if it can be made to work. It’s not cheap, but it makes use of an expensive and very efficient flying ramp.

      8. Here’s another possible solution. The westbound HOV lane is about six miles long, right? So if one quarter mile of it is made “general purpose” to allow the MI SOV’s to enter the left side, doesn’t the State then owe the Federal government one half (because only one direction) of 1/24 (because 1/4 mile out of six) of the amount of Federal contribution?

        Surely the state can come up with that.

      9. Jason, also, the remark about litigation was meant to be a joke about all the lawyers who live on your island. Obviously, it bombed.

      10. The state isn’t going to pay for those lanes. ST and Mercer Island are the parties desperate to get what they need.

        Regardless, I can foresee a solution to temporarily allow SOVs through the HOV lane, but not permanently. The temporariness, based on construction needs, ought to be a sufficient excuse for the temporary detour, while a permanent solution is worked out and installed by the time East Link opens for service.

      11. I think allowing SOV’s access to the Island Crest Way ramp, then giving them 1/4 mile to merge over to the general-purpose lanes seems like a reasonable compromise. There’s not going to be that many people getting on the freeway from Mercer Island at any one time to cause an unreasonable slowdown to the HOV lane. Whether federal law allows this compromise, of course, is another question entirely.

    2. The statement about the EIS being defective for its traffic analysis is incorrect. The moment the Feds ruled SOV use of HOV lanes is illegal, ST initiated the analysis of corridor-wide traffic performance with MI SOV traffic in the GP lanes. This work is complete and has been coordinated with WSDOT and the city.

      There is literally no claim to a mobility impact. Two-way, 24-hour HOV lanes combined with 20-hour LRT service is vastly superior to the status quo from a mobility standpoint. And the train is faster to downtown from MI than an SOV. This is about the MI council not having the guts to explain the facts to their constituents. They need a judge to do it to protect their political butts.

      1. I was under the impression that the EIS neglected to account for traffic diverting from Island Crest Way when its entrance ramp goes HOV-only? If I’m wrong, please do correct me – but if so, that does seem to be a deficiency.

      2. Do you have a link to this traffic study? Not that I don’t believe the result, but details matter and I’d be very interested to read it. For example if the study solely addressed I-90 mainline impacts then that doesn’t take into account local MI impacts, which the analysis commissions by the city shows to be significant.
        http://www.mercergov.org/files/KPG_Traffic_Analysis_7Nov2016.pdf
        (Sorry on my phone and can’t link things easily)

        I have no trouble believing that I-90 mainline impacts would differ much with or without the ICW ramp, but the EIS also analyzed MI local traffic issues in addition to I-90 impacts.

        From a mobility standpoint if you can’t get to I-90 or East Link then mobility isn’t enhanced is it? In fact it might be degraded relative to the baseline.

      3. I was under the impression that the EIS neglected to account for traffic diverting from Island Crest Way when its entrance ramp goes HOV-only?

        What are the plausible negative environmental consequences of redirecting the flow of SOV traffic slightly? Are people really going to be driving that much more–it’s not a big island! If SOV access becomes significantly less convenient, that will likely encourage more carpools, which has a positive environmental impact. But regardless, this is really marginal–there’s not going to be some significant environmental impact either way.

        This is classic EIS abuse–taking something designed for nobler causes and using it as a roadblock for NIMBY goals that have nothing to do with protecting the environment. Using EIS to delay Eastlink is obscene, and another reason MI deserves to be crushed here. What a cynical, ugly, pathetic tactic.

      4. I said the EIS *as written* was defective, which it pretty clearly was. I’d surely like to see this new traffic modeling, which doesn’t appear to be public.

        Especially the modeling of transit impacts from routing the bulk of the island’s traffic through the one lane transit center that the 212, 550 and 554 serve.

        And I’m not sure of the extent to which the *eventual* improvement in mobility from East Link can be taken into account: remember that I90 Two Way HOV Operations (WSDOT/ST joint project) and East Link (ST) are seperate projects.

      5. Reducing access for SOVs is an environmental improvement, since it will naturally encourage carpooling — and therefore it has zero adverse environmental impacts. Claiming otherwise is abuse of process. They can’t even make an environmental justice claim that trafifc is being moved to a poor neighborhood becuase all of Mercer Island is rich.

        Basically Mercer Island has no leg to stand on and its lawsuits are frivolous. I hope they get smacked down HARD.

    3. Yeah, good summary. I think both sides are playing a high stakes game of chicken right now. ST knows that in the end, they will win. They don’t have to do anything for Mercer Island. But Mercer Island feels like ST forgot to dot their i’s and cross their t’s. Their failure to look at the local traffic impacts of closing that ramp to regular traffic was a big mistake, and means that a judge is likely to tell them to write a supplemental EIS. That takes time, and ST doesn’t want to spend the time, because that means money. The Burke Gilman “missing link” has taken years because the folks in charge failed to cover all the bases, and this seems similar.

      My guess is they settle. The ramp they want would cost 60 million, but that is a lot of money, even for an agency happy to spend billions on dubious projects. It would also buy a lot of sidewalks, and a lot of new traffic lights (which is what they are arguing about, at least publicly). If I had to guess, I would say they settle for 20 million or so. The city council goes back and tells everyone to take a different ramp (West Mercer Way) and that is a good chunk of change to spend on sidewalks. You can probably bank half of it, and a lot of the folks would be thrilled (might even lower taxes). Meanwhile, ST goes back to the board and says “oops, we’ll do better next time” and complains about those greedy Mercer Island guys that don’t play fair. This isn’t in the “OMG — we could have built this or that!” range, so I see that as a decent settlement. The pedestrian bridge for Northgate, for example, actually costs more.

      One of the more interesting aspects of this, of course, is the nature of the negotiation. I think in both cases, but certainly for Mercer Island, they have to approve the settlement. This makes it like labor negotiation. If the union approves the offer, the rank and file still need to approve, and if they don’t, you are back to the drawing board. That rarely happens, but in this case, things might get weird. Unless they get a new ramp (which seems unlikely) there will be a vocal contingent demanding that (I can just picture “Save Our Ramp!” signs). Hopefully a majority of the board would see a decent settlement as a big win, but it wouldn’t surprise me if it is a split vote.

      1. Yeah that is hard to predict. I think the MI City Council would prefer to get something that looks good and declare history, while ST simply wants to get moving. In my mind the most likely outcome remains ST/WSDOT giving MI some amount of money (probably in the $15-30m range) that the City could do whatever with (parking, street improvements/sidewalks, bus service, etc.), along with vague promises from WSDOT to “expedite” design and funding of the ramp. Which won’t happen for 20 years, if ever. But that part wouldn’t include anything truly binding so this kind of outcome allows both sides to claim victory without really gaining or losing anything.

        I could see some MI citizens trying to push the ramp issue, but they’d probably have difficulty actually accomplishing anything, since I also assume any settlement would include a revised MOA regarding I-90 and its configuration.

    4. As far as EIS’s go, the R8A EIS was completed back by WSDOT and ST in 2004. The preferred alternative in the EIS acknowledged future high capacity transit in the express lanes but at the time East Link wasn’t funded.

      1. As an attorney, the EIS was completed so long ago that it seems clear Mercer Island would have a statute of limitations problem if they tried to challenge it now. They might add it to a complaint for color, but I don’t think they’d have a valid claim under NEPA (the normal way to challenge an EIS).

  3. If ST needs a really ugly counterattack, why not just threaten to make every still-existing lane on I-90 SOV for the duration? Good chance Mercer Island would go non-adversarial ‘way before WSOT. Great kind of defendant, right?

    However, to avoid the kind of court costs that cash-starved municipalities jail poor people for life for: How much ST Express bus service can we run between Island Crest and Westlake? Which will also create a 550 Tunnel constituency some of whom are on the Convention Center board.

    Meantime, where does STB go to either file a Freedom of Information demand for legal cost figures, or help a whistle-blower get asylum in either Canada or Russia? Because in addition to the extra buses, by the balance sheet it’ll probably be second grade arithmetic to give everybody on the Island ORCA cards for life. Skipping the $5.

    What’s missing here is main factor for starting regional transit in the first place: Republicans. The few who escaped alive when the Confederates, who were all Democrats (Get over it, Democrats! They really were!) seized their party.

    Under their honored battle flag, the Red, White, And Black With Columns for Stripes, the true Republicans would swiftly render all parties non-adversarial by proving, in the teeth of Tim Eyman’s most savage auditors, that legal costs would be better spent accelerating East Link schedule to completion for President’s Day.

    History: After WWII, dozens of Japanese soldiers found their way out of Pacific Island jungles to discover that the war had been over for years. So it’s very likely actual Republicans will start emerging from their hidden board-rooms and stately Club lounges. And surrounding shrubbery.

    Many have spent the war pathetically posing as Democrats. Still wearing their pin-striped uniforms and subdued ties, but sadly demoralized. So give them their Congressionals, and restore their careers on on Transit Boards and Mercer Island City Councils. Jim Ellis de-adversarialized 1.3 miles of Downtown property owners during a construction boom.

    Mark Dublin

    1. Mark,

      Whether they could go with 4 general purpose lanes west of Island Crest Way depends on the EIS for the R8A project. It would be directly counter to the purpose and need of the project but if it was analyzed as an alternative they *may* be able to implement it as a temporary alternative. I’m not sure it’s a good idea though because the HOV lane is most useful in the interim period between Center Roadway closure and East Link opening. Once we have East Link buses won’t be crossing the floating bridge in service so it matters a lot less.

      The state Public Records Act (FOIA is a federal law and not applicable to state and local agencies) does not require disclosure of non-existent records or the creation of records to satisfy a request, so if no cost estimate exists there’s nothing to disclose.

      1. I’m sorry, Jason. You’re trying to be reasonable. I should know better. Times we live in demand calm and effective rationality.. Life’s wits are barbed enough right now.

        My point about Public Records is that I think that cost of litigation really could be better spent making use of transit itself to give residents a faster ride than they’d have in their cars.

        Considering both the cost and possibly decades of ill will that lawyers’ fees will cost, I think the coldest calculation would show that increased service and fare breaks for Islanders ’til LINK opens would be fair compensation for lost privileges.

        When people get into the habit of using transit, there’ll be fewer cars in the way of service elsewhere. Might really work best to make that stretch of I-90 transit only through rush hours.

        Also serious about keeping the 550 and the 41 as only bus routes in the Tunnel. I do think that we can make joint rail-bus operations work with only two bus routes still in there, But I’m also still firm that train schedules can’t be impaired.

        Have also said that if joint operations can’t be made to work, route recently proposed for the future “591”, I-90 to I-5 to Westlake Station area to South Lake Union, might also work.

        For even word “tactics”, I think Claudia is right that the whole idea of transit money going to attorneys could both make settlement harder- and worse, make future transit votes harder to win.

        Mark

  4. Those who haven’t been in the private discussions are not well-placed to second guess the decisions. But taking the escalatory path has risks that ought to be obvious.

    Mercer Island has a colorable case with respect to Island Crest Way access. Perhaps not a strong one, but if all parties take the path of maximum litigation, they might win. Depending on what a court orders, we potentially have a multi-year delay on East Link.

    CM Balducci’s caution looks reasonable. FHWA torpedoed the obvious solution very late in the process. With a few years and $60 million, there are good fixes to Mercer Island’s highway access issues. What is lacking is an obvious fix that will be ready to go by June. They have a right to mitigation of access issues, and who knows what a court will read into that.

    Mercer Islanders are unsympathetic protagonists because the loudest voices are so unreasonable. Venting back at the Islanders isn’t the only way out of this.

  5. In terms of impacting bus flow, there are actually more peak-direction peak-hour buses bypassing Mercer Island P&R than stopping at it. Routes 216, 550, and 554 stop there, and collectively have 19 peak-direction peak-hour trips. Routes 111, 114, 212, 214, 218, and 219 pass by, and collectively have 27 peak-hour peak-direction trips.

    So, FWIW, more buses are impacted by moving the SOV traffic to the HOV lane.

    However, the impact to the bus flow at Mercer Island P&R may be more pronounced.

    The best way to study the impacts is to make the ramp SOV for a couple weeks after the express lanes close for good, and then make the ramp HOV for a couple weeks after the express lanes close for good.

  6. The ramp that will be closed to SOV in July is currently two lanes (one for the GP lanes, one for HOV), and there is no reason it can’t be two lanes in the future to solve this problem, though this will take engineering and money. This is not really Sound Transit’s direct problem, as the center lanes are not at issue. FHWA has been writing since 2005 that no SOV use of the HOV lanes would be allowed, but no agency has studied the effect on the city’s streets of closing the ramp which is used by 1200 cars at peak. The agencies didn’t anticipate the closure. This is not Sound Transit’s fault, but is DOT being intractable, as usual.

    Thanks to this blog’s balanced reporting on the issue, and the links to what the agencies are writing.

  7. I have little to no sympathy for Mercer Island. They had ~13 years (since 2k4 ammendment) to go to WSDOT to get onramps figured out and better traffic flows studied and potentially implemented. Crying foul now just shows their lack of foresight and preparation. They were lucky to have been able to use the express lanes for SOV access for as long as they did. Cry all you want, but a tiny island city will not hold up the transportation needs of an entire region.

  8. For all the uninformed that think this is a “rich people” issue, get a grip. Mercer island has 24,000 residents and thousands a day that commute to and from both DT and the eastside. We have a finite number of access points to get off the island. Many of those access points are being taken away including the primary access point to DT which which is ICW, our busiest street.

    Additionally, we have tried to negotiate with ST and WSDOT, we’ve been told to pound sand all the while, Bellevue (which is less affected than MI) received hundreds of millions in mitigation in funds and in kind infrastructure relief.

    Note that without MI agreeing to I-90 in the first place, there would be no I-90 floating bridge.

    Now, Imagine your house is on a street that has two access/egress points. and the adjacent street where your neighbors live has three access/egress points. Now let’s say ST/WSDOT comes in and closes one of the three of your neighboring streets access/egress points, but then pays the neighbors millions and builds a tunnel to give them back a 3rd access/egress. Now imagine the ST comes and takes away one access/egress point on your street. You ask for your mitigation and they tell you to go bugger off.

    Well, that’s what happened to Mercer Island Residents. We are losing big time. Note that an overwhelming majority of MI residents supported both ST2 and ST3. I would guess that wouldn’t have been the case if we knew we’d lose mobility.

    Now you know why we have to litigate. We are the net/net losers here.

    1. Only SOVs will be restricted from using the Island Crest Way Ramp.

      ST wrote a letter supporting letting SOVs continuing to have access to the ramp. It is FWHA that is denying that access. And yet, Mercer Island is not suing FWHA. Why?

      Without Mercer Island wanting a freeway, there would be no freeway on Mercer Island. So, don’t try to make it sound like allowing a freeway was a gift to your neighbors.

      As for the concern trolling on behalf of poor Mercer Islanders, we’ve suggested various approaches, such as making the ramp and the HOV lane an HOT lane, and then giving out toll passes to those on Mercer Island who can’t afford tolls.

      There is also the matter of Mercer Island not wanting bus transfer facilities on the island, while also wanting to not allow off-islanders to park there. Of course, not having the bus transfer facility is going to force a lot of off-islanders to park there. The obnoxious entitlement expressed by the loudest Mercer Islanders is annoying enough without the unique demands being so self-contradictory.

      I’m still waiting for someone/anyone from Mercer Island to respond to the idea of free toll passes for the poor residents of Mercer Island.

      1. It is FWHA that is denying that access. And yet, Mercer Island is not suing FWHA. Why?

        I’d think it’s because FHWA is not a party to the various historic access agreements. To the arguable extent Mercer Island is owed mitigation, it is WSDOT and the other parties that are responsible for providing the mitigation. Even if FHWA is the agency that’s standing in the way.

      2. Jonathan,

        ICW is mostly SOV and is the primary onramp to I-90 for most of the Island. That’s a silly arguement you make. How in the heck are SOVs supposed to get off the island in any kind of reasonable manner? I’m still waiting for the answer to that question. It’s not that we want SOV access to HOV onramp, it’s that we need a damn onramp on our busiest and largest street on the island for SOVs. What about that don’t you understand?

        as for your statement “Without Mercer Island wanting a freeway, there would be no freeway on Mercer Island. So, don’t try to make it sound like allowing a freeway was a gift to your neighbors.”, NOT TRUE. Mercer island already had a bridge to get off the island that worked just fine thank you. If we wanted it soooo bad, then why did we get concessions to allow it? Your statement is false on its face.

        Regarding “bus transfer”, so let me understand this, you think it’s smart for us to be okay losing access to I90 which will divert mass island traffic through town center and then on top of it add bus transfer through our downtown? Hmmm. add buses and add local traffic. Yeah, That’s real brilliant. I’d respect your opinion more if you demonstrated some level of common sense in your arguments.

        As for me, bring on the hot lane. I’ll gladly pay for speed, but that option is not available because of the required EIS required for hot lanes. Do your research first, then respond.

      3. I’m sorry, Jonathan, but you don’t get to bully people into silence on a blog that does not belong to you. Really, the world does not belong to you. (And why are you calling yourself stupid?)

        Your unwillingness to allow maybe a dozen peak-hour buses onto N Mercer Way, getting in the way of 1000 cars, both reveals your lack of concern for the commoners and your weak grasp of traffic math. Those buses would be carrying about 500-600 riders. How do they get no respect from you?

        Some on Mercer Island would like to head to Bellevue, Eastage, or Issaquah in the morning without having to ride the train from Mercer Island to South Bellevue, and transfer there. Where is your compassion for those Mercer Islanders?

        Some would like more parking spaces for Mercer Islanders. Those buses carrying 1000 passengers a day take the place of 1000 people who might otherwise drive directly to Mercer Island P&R. Want parking spaces? Allow the buses. Don’t want off-island buses? Be prepared to not have a parking space. And no, ST is not going to build you a parking garage that only allows Mercer Islanders to park. Totally illegal.

        How the heck do SOVs get off the island? There are three other ramps left. I’m sorry Mercer Island saw fit to turn its city center into a jigsaw puzzle.

        I understand what you want. 1) Quicker SOV access to I-90 than anyone else; 2) Keep those dirty bus riders off the island; 3) Keep those off-islanders out of Mercer Island’s private parking garage (which, unfortunately for you, isn’t private).

        Did I miss any of the obnoxious demands? Thanks for your ‘tude. Bring some facts next time.

    1. I must live in an alternate universe where Sound Transit was the one petitioning for SOV access to the HOV lanes on behalf of Mercer Island. And then when the FHWA shot it down, Mercer Island got pissy and decided to bite the hand that feeds them.

      What a crazy, far-fetched world I live in.

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