No One Could Seriously Believe That 4 Lanes on ICW are Better than 3, Right?

If you’ve driven regularly past Island Crest Way and Merrimount lately, you’ve seen the temporary traffic control. The stakes that protect right turns have improved matters (earlier accidents in the area made it the worst accident location on the Island) but the dented and somewhat run-over appearance of the stakes leads you to believe that work is still needed.

The problem intersection:

The question I pose: how could any but a three-lane solution make sense? The heart of the argument is that where ICW is four lanes, north of 53rd St, it’s an uninviting highway. Where it’s three lanes (two driving lanes, plus a turn lane with islands in between) it’s a relaxing boulevard.

As evidence, I present photos. Three lanes: pretty.

Four lanes: ugly. Not the house, the street.

There are reasons beyond aesthetics. Sometimes I run in the mornings, and ICW is virtually impossible to cross where it’s four lanes. Even my husband, who is almost universally in favor of faster traffic, all the time, thinks that the speed should be lower. Drivers don’t gain much time from a driving faster on ICW, and the speed creates a lot of danger in a residential community such as the Island.

The City Council has done research and held hearings on the subject. You have to applaud the City Council for being open enough to include, in the notes, this comment: “probably the worst traffic management scheme I have ever seen.” In general the comments included a mix of articulation of problems, like “there’s too much last minute lane shifting/merging” and solutions, such as “Just make ICW a 3 lane roadway.” The only obvious solution, of course.

Ironically, the decision had been made in favor of three lanes, and according to the Reporter, is being reconsidered.

My certainty aside, your comments are welcome. What do you think?


4 responses to “No One Could Seriously Believe That 4 Lanes on ICW are Better than 3, Right?

  1. I agree it’s great that our Council is open to considering this idea, especially in the face of the knee-jerk negative reactions from many citizens who have not really thought about the idea.

    I’m no expert in this area, but I like the idea of narrowing ICW and the many benefits it could yield.

  2. Completely agree – 3 lanes is the only real alternative. My understanding is that:

    1) The current configuration at Merrymount is fait acompli (1 lane in each direction for thru traffic)
    2) Almost all vehicles that pass south through Merrymount will continue south of 53rd St, where there is 1 lane in each direction for thru traffic (very few vehicles leave ICW between these two intersections)
    3) Traffic flow and throughput therefore is governed by these two endpoints. There is no benefit to having more than 3 lanes total in between but the cost is reduced usability for runners and cyclists, excessive speed and swerving and an unattractive roadway.

    When I spoke with city council members about the topic, I was a bit dismayed to hear how eager some residents were to stick with the current configuration (in the face of logic and the recommendation’s of MI’s own traffic engineer).

    If you feel strongly about this issue, I encourage you to get in touch with the City Council and make sure they know how you feel.

  3. Pingback: No Traffic Light at Merrimount and Island Crest Way « Surrounded By Water: A Mercer Island Blog

  4. Pingback: The 2009 City Council Election– aka 3 or 4 Lanes on Island Crest Way « Surrounded By Water: A Mercer Island Blog

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