The 2009 City Council Election– aka 3 or 4 Lanes on Island Crest Way

Here on Mercer Island, the November election has two City Council Seats and two School Board seats in play. The City Council race is effectively a vote about Island Crest Way. Let’s take a look at that one.


Ira’s extremely targeted campaign platform and the object of said platform.

Why does Election 2009 = Island Crest Way Vote? 2 Reasons.

  1. Of the three seats at stake, only one (Council Position #2) is contested.
  2. Of the two candidates for Council Position #2, one (Ira Appleman) has staked his campaign on fighting the decision to take ICW to 3 lanes.

Ira’s positioning is strong because it’s simple and memorable, but it’s a bit of a shame as well because Ira has done a lot in service to the Island that gets lost in his focus on this issue. A lot of his record I support, including preserving open space and cutting wasteful spending.

Road Diet: Pro & Con

But as I’ve written before, I can’t support Ira on this. I support taking ICW to 3 lanes. It’s too hard to turn now, too busy, and too hard to cross. Some citizens have put together a website outlining the reasons for 3 lanes instead of 4.  They’ve included a handy map showing neighboring communities that have successfully implemented  road diets.

Ira’s main arguments, as I read his letter, seem to me beside the point:

  • Overwhelming opposition from Islanders to a 3-lane solution: I haven’t seen this in my friends but also don’t know if a survey has been done.
  • A bad process with the result baked in from the beginning: Can’t comment on whether this is true, but having known nothing of the process or the people involved it still seems like a better solution to me.
  • Plan favors bikes over cars: Doesn’t seem so. In fact, the case for 3 lanes doesn’t even mention bikes as one of the main rationales:


I both bike and drive to work, but mostly drive. And it’s hard to turn on ICW. I also walk and run around the neighborhood and it’s hard to cross ICW. Look, it’s Seattle– almost no one bikes in the winter rain and cold. So it’s hard to believe that bunch of rabid bike-freaks have taken over the process.

Funny thing is, I would vote for Ira Appleman based on his record. But I can’t vote for the guy who wants to keep Island Crest Way at 4 lanes.


15 responses to “The 2009 City Council Election– aka 3 or 4 Lanes on Island Crest Way

  1. I’m still hoping someone involved moves this into the 20th century and looks at a traffic circle. There is _exactly_ enough room for a circle equal to the one at the S end of E Lake Sammamish.

  2. Heck, I meant 21st century, but…well, maybe 20th century isn’t that inaccurate. We just need to get out of the mindset that ICW is a mini-freeway.

  3. mercerislandblogger


    A traffic circle might work well too. At this point I’d go with the more developed proposal, 3 lanes, simply because we’ve been debating this issue for so long it’s become our own Alaskan Way Viaduct. But I totally agree that we need to stop thinking about ICW as a freeway.


  4. I know a traffic circle has been considered, and I would favor a solution like that too, but in this case it appears not feasible. If you stand at the intersection of Merrimount and ICW it’s hard to see how a traffic circle could possibly fit in the space available without significant regrading and land acquisition from adjacent homeowners. That would be very costly indeed! Let’s go with the 3-lane proposal already on the table.

  5. Truly, no new land would be needed. I measured this from the King Co iMAP site and the area is there to support the same size traffic circle as the one by Lake Sammamish. The other advantage of the traffic circle is that it would divide pedestrian / bike crossings at that location into (2) separate single-lane crossings – an order of magnitude safer than multi-lane straight through. You think regrading is expensive, wait until you see what a fatality costs.

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  9. Ira’s contention that the process was baked is totally incorrect. I was on the citizen’s committee that voted overwhelmingly for the three lane option. The panel consisted of people who had widely diverse opinions on what should be done going into the process. In the end most saw that three lanes was by far the best option.

    If you look closely with an open mind its hard not to come to this conclusion. Ira was in the audience taping everything. He was rude and insulting to the members of the committee who had given their time to help with the decision and to anyone else who did not agree with him. He is not the kind of person I want on my city council.

  10. mercerislandblogger

    Thanks for the comment, Sam. I have to agree with you about the evidence. When I first looked into the issue, I found the proposed solution extremely well-documented, including engineering assessments, incident history and comparable solutions elsewhere. It doesn’t seem to have been a solution that was slammed through without thought.

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  15. When was construction of Island Crest Way completed? In the early 1960’s? What year?

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