More Traffic Lights on the Island? And a Roundabout

The Mercer Island Reporter reports that the council is considering two new lights downtown, at 27th and 77th and 78th. Not to overdramatize the situation, but our 4-light island is threatening to turn into a teeming metropolis of tense, sweaty people trapped in cars! Actually, the new lights sound like a good idea. But blinking red at off-hours, please.

The article also contains a review of what was, apparently, a very lengthy debate over the options at Island Crest Way and Merrimount:

  1. keep the current four-lane configuration, which would require an expansive expansion;
  2. or use three lanes only, with two travel lanes and a center turn lane. The three-lane configuration would extend to 42nd st.

Recap: council leans toward center lane.

As someone who will probably spend up to eight full days of my life trying to take a left on Island Crest Way, I applaud that leaning and hope it will crystallize into a decision.

Even my husband, who drives swiftly and curses at speed-impaired drivers, says Island Crest needs to slow down- it’s frikkin’ crazy. He suggests a roundabout there. Oh, and some trees down the middle so it doesn’t look like a concrete highway.

Any passionate convictions out there? Four-lane option, three-lane option, or roundabout?

Mercer Island Traffic Photo credit: Roomman on Flickr.


7 responses to “More Traffic Lights on the Island? And a Roundabout

  1. I hate that part of Island Crest Way. It’s true that before it would sometimes take forever to turn left there, but now it seems dangerous that the lane suddenly stops. They should expand the road and up the speed limit to 40mph. (Everybody goes that fast anyways.) Actually, the whole island needs to be sped up by 5mph, especially SE 24th St. You need to be going more than 25mph to get up the hill and end up going more than 25mph coming down. Plus you have cops waiting on both ends!

  2. Also, I love the idea of roundabouts and having lived and learned to drive in Australia, I have seen the benefits of roundabouts. However, the relative unfamiliarity and therefore inefficiency with roundabouts most Americans have stresses me out.

  3. Or just do what Bruce suggests and go on a road diet:

  4. mercerislandblogger

    Good point about the roundabouts, Daniel. My husband says: People don’t know how to drive here anyway. Why not put in a roundabout for the people who do?

    But having seen the results of the first roundabout in Houston (big red V8 trucks going the wrong way ’round), I also worry about drivers’ unfamiliarity with them. Might be a rough start, but I bet Mercer Islanders would get the hang of it.

  5. The “road diet” is the way to go. The amount of traffic on ICW is static and easily accommodated by one lane in each direction.

    Drive the full length of ICW, and you’ll notice the dramatic transformation south of the 5100 block: trees, trails, rural feel, etc. We could have this same feeling starting at the 4200 block.

    For those of you who want to increase the speed limit and/or are frustrated with the “speed impaired”, just relax. Don’t forget the number of pedestrian injuries and even deaths that have happened on ICW in recent years.

  6. Island Crest is the street most visitors to the Island experience – we would serve ourselves well by slowing it down 5mph and making it a multi-use boulevard with landscaping and bike lanes.

    This would allow us to handle the same amount of traffic but improve the experience dramatically. The difference between going 35 mph and 30 mph on ICW would shave only seconds from an average drive, but the impact on the feel of the entire Island would be dramatic.

  7. mercerislandblogger

    Bryan and Joe, I agree. I’d love to have ICW be a tree-lined boulevard, a nice welcome to the Island, and I’d be willing to slow down a little for that.

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