Mercer Island has reached agreement with Sound Transit on access to I-90. The agreement means the express lanes can close permanently to auto traffic as scheduled this weekend. A planned hearing this morning in King County Superior Court on Mercer Island’s injunction to prevent the closures is now cancelled.
The agreement includes $10 million in traffic improvements on the island and replacement parking for the South Bellevue P&R lot which closed for East Link construction earlier this week. Mercer Island Council approved the agreement shortly before midnight last night after a 6 1/2 hour executive session. Approval from the Sound Transit Board is anticipated at the June 22 Board meeting.
The Seattle Times first reported the deal outline, and the offer sheet is here. A further readout is anticipated from Mercer Island later today. [UPDATE: Mercer Island’s press statement is here]. Sound Transit CEO Peter Rogoff outlined major elements of the agreement at the O&A Committee meeting this afternoon.
The agreement includes:
- $5.1 million contribution from Sound Transit to Mercer Island for improvements related to traffic congestion and bike/pedestrian safety. The city will determine the projects to be funded.
- $4.5 million from Sound Transit to build up to 200 permanent park-and-ride spaces on Mercer Island. Sound Transit would fund up to 49% of the cost of dedicated transit parking at TOD projects or structured parking projects.
- The bus-rail intercept to be moved to a location “more conducive to Mercer Island’s long term vision for its town center”. This means no pick-up or drop-off on 80th Ave SE; buses not to drive through the Town Center via SE 27th; bus volumes on N Mercer Way not to exceed current volumes. These provisions would not apply to Mercer Island only routes. Pick-ups and drop-offs would be on the south side of N Mercer Way between 77th Ave SE and 80th Ave SE. Layovers would only occur in the PM peak and would be limited to 15 minutes.
- Sound Transit to lease 100 temporary parking spots for transit users on Mercer Island. These would be within a 1/3 mile walkshed or served by transit or shuttle service. The temporary parking would be available through the construction of the new South Bellevue parking structure. Sound Transit has already leased or expanded seven other lots to mitigate the closure of the South Bellevue P&R, and continues discussions on other leases in Bellevue.
- A last mile pilot project with King County Metro to improve transit access for residents. This would potentially be extended elsewhere in the region.
- Sound Transit to make contributions to parks and I-90 emergency response.
- Both parties to stay all current litigation and regulatory action affecting East Link while approval is pending. All current lawsuits to be dismissed if the settlement is approved. The City of Mercer Island to acknowledge that any obligations from the 1976 agreement will be satisfied.
The agreement surely comes as a relief for all parties. While Mercer Island’s legal position did not appear strong, the agreement eliminates the risk of an injunction delaying rail construction to Bellevue and Redmond. It also resolves longstanding issues around bus access to the rail station, though it’s not yet clear how the limits on bus operations will affect Eastside transit users.