Tag Archives: park-and-ride

How Does Mercer Island Commute?

Just saw an excellent post in the Seattle Bike Blog on how Seattle commutes. Which got me wondering how Mercer Island commutes.

I went to the Census American communities Survey, just released for 2012, and looked at Mercer Island versus Seattle, Bellevue and all of King County:


In only a few minutes with the data a few things popped out:

1.Islanders drive more than the rest of King County.

2. Our mean commute is lower than Seattle, Bellevue or all of King County, probably because of how central the Island is.

3. Almost 10% of Islanders work from home, quite a bit higher than the rest of the county.

4. Islanders take public transportation at a much lower rate than the rest of the county. I think we’d take it more if we could get to the Park & Ride more easily or find parking there. These days, it’s parked up before 8 am, causing a stressful morning for anyone planning to get a spot.

My husband and I have tried many of these methods– driving alone, carpooling, the bus, and biking– at different times. Basically anything other than walking. One of the nice things about Mercer Island is you can get almost anywhere, fast.

I wonder how these numbers will change when the Express Lanes give way to Light Rail. One would expect a dramatic drop in driving alone and a rise in public transportation. We’ll see in about 10 years.

Food Bank needs food! and more bulletin board

Remember that story on homelessness on Mercer Island? The Mercer Island food bank, which helps out families who’ve hit some trouble, needs donations.

“Our food pantry is lower than we’ve ever seen it – last week double the amount of families used the food pantry.

August is one of our slow months for food drives and deliveries. Use rates have gone up 150% over the past two years and sometimes it is hard to keep up. Thank you for any help you can give,” said Cindy Goodwin, Director, Mercer Island Food Bank.

Escape from the Rock closes roads Sunday

Look out for road closures and fit people in short shorts and swim caps this Sunday. The Escape from the Rock triathlon will be happening and with it, a lot of road closures on North Island from 8 am to 10:30 am.

Condos Selling

Melissa McMurray reports that “7800 Plaza is now 40 % SOLD!” 7800 has some nice new retail space coming in too. Six Walls moved in and Mo’s Pizza is getting ready there too.

No parking, poor shuttle service

Seattle Transit Blog writes about our transport woes. Yes, parking and riding is still in short supply at the Mercer Island Park and Ride.

New Preschool Opens

Kelli Palsha of The Andover School writes:

We are a half day, year round preschool program running from 9am-12:15pm. We accept children ages 2-pre-K in an “all-inclusive” classroom which helps teach empathy and role modeling with the mixed ages. We are all Organic with full preschool lesson plans including biweekly teaching themes and monthly dramatic play themes. Children do not need to be potty trained to attend and we will help them with that when they are ready. We are very small (on purpose) and at the most we will accept 12 children with our two teachers. We currently have a few morning spots still available. Children are able to attend 1-5 days a week as we know families are very busy these days!

Pioneer Park Expansion?

Council member Mike Cero writes in his latest newsletter:
North Star Property (Jul 19)- The North Star Council expressed interest in selling 3.5 acres next to Engstrom Open Space which is next to Pioneer Park. This acquisition would expand the contiguous footprint of Pioneer Park. I was glad to vote to have our City Manager apply for a matching grant and another matching grant to match the first matching grant. If the North Star property acquisition isn’t going to further strain our budget, then I am willing to accept the additional maintenance expense and property tax exclusion for the benefits of additional open space. So as not to build expectations, I suspect that we will only get one grant and I am not one to necessarily accept grants simply because they leverage our money. We have to recognize that leveraging grant money is normally unbudgeted and takes away from other necessary programs.

Mercer Island Park-and-Ride to Get MORE Full?

Anyone interested in light rail on Mercer Island should attend the workshop on the planned Link station Tuesday night. Unfortunately I can’t go, but tell me how it goes. It’s at the Community Center at Mercer View from 5 to 7:30 p.m.

And as Seattle Transit Blog points out, anyone interested in using the Park and Ride should also go.  If Light Rail doesn’t connect to the Park-and-Ride in Bellevue, many East Side riders might drive to Mercer Island to pick up the light rail to the airport or the city.

If you use the Park-and-Ride, you know it’s completely packed full by 8 or 8:30 a.m. most weekdays. Any additional load means bleary eyes for Mercer Island commuters who’ll need to park by, say, 6 a.m. to use the only Park-and-Ride available to us. Ouch. If you have time, please go to the workshop.

No Parking Left Behind

Parking at the P&R is still tight. These signs are up at the Walgreens and other locations in North Island:


No news here- there’s no plan to fix the situation soon. But  my sympathies go out to the folks who are getting up earlier and earlier to get a spot so they can get to work.

I-985: Ridiculous

I-985, title  “Reducing Traffic Congestion,” follows in the law-making tradition of naming bills after generally good principles, even when the bill directly contradicts said principles.

I-985 would turn HOV lanes into regular traffic lanes at 6 pm. Not only would that negate the effect of Mercer Island’s shiny new HOV lane for buses, which have helped speed up traffic around the 80th Ave exit,

but it would have this obvious chain of effects:

  1. Buses and carpools become no faster than driving alone
  2. More people drive to work
  3. More cars are on the road
  4. Everyone slows down

Then we all get stuck in traffic and cause more pollution. The No on I-985 Group lists all the anti-endorsements of this bill. The Seattle Times lists 10 reasons not to vote for it. But the HOV-lane change is all it takes to make the “Reducing Traffic Congestion”initiative ridiculous.

Future Worthwhile Projects, Also To Be Screwed Up

The new HOV lanes from Bellevue are only Phase 1 in WSDOT’s I-90 HOV project. Also to be screwed up by I-985 are :
Phase 2: New HOV lane from Mercer Island to Bellevue, to finish in 2020
Phase 3: HOV lanes to and from Seattle, to finish in 2023

Video of the New HOV Lane

Adding nothing to the conversation on I-985, but fun to watch, is this video of the new HOV-only exit on Mercer Island:

Clearly designed for buses going to the Park-and-Ride, the exit forces you to turn right at 80th Ave. But it keeps buses from cutting across all lanes to exit.

Bonus Link

Curious how your environmental impact changes when you take the bus? Check out Salamander Points, a new site that lets you add up your energy usage and see how sustainable it is. Nice!

Park and Ride Still Short on Parking, Riding

The travails of Mercer Island’s Park & Ride continue. Yesterday I had a chance to be at the P&R mid-day, and saw plenty of cars whose drivers had worked them onto the end of rows.

Rogue parkers. License plates blocked to avoid getting anyone busted.

More rogue parkers, license plates also blocked. Those are political fliers, not tickets.

It’s technically a parking violation, but you can’t really fault drivers who arrive to catch their bus and can’t find a place to park.

Fred Butler, Issaquah Council Member on the Sound Transit Board, got back to me about the situation. His comments provide a glimmer of parking hope:
I am aware of the current situation at the MI P&R. We have experienced similar situations at other Sound Transit facilities and are currently considering policy options to address these concerns through a Transit Operation Task Force which has been meeting over the past several months. I expect that the ST Board will be discussing potential recommendations from the TF early next year.

– Email from Fred Butler

Til a better fix, we’ll have more parking rogues and more signs like these:

Our Park & Ride: Why It’s a Little Screwed Up

Recently commenters on this blog have noted that the new Park and Ride is full by 9 am and suggested tactics for solving the problem, whether City-Council-approved or guerrilla.

The reigning theory is that folks from Issaquah, Bellevue and further reaches are coming to the closest P&R to the city– namely, ours. That becomes a problem for Island residents who can’t get a spot after 9 am. Get up and get to work earlier, you lazy bums, you think? Perhaps, but last Tuesday I worked from home til 11 and then couldn’t park to take the bus to work.

From Bruce Bassett, City Council

I emailed Bruce Bassett on the City Council for his thoughts on the problem. His remarks, which he didn’t mind me publishing, are:

The history of the park and ride is long and I don’t have all the details.  Here’s what I do know:

P&R was financed by Sound Transit, not by MI.  And Sound Transit has a hard and fast policy that all P&Rs are open to all.

MI had the option of adding additional levels to the P&R for MI only.  MI opted not to invest.

Citizen created signage saying ‘MI only’ would not be well received and would likely strain relations between the city and sound transit.

City staff and council are well aware of the problem, but good solutions are in short supply.  If you have thoughts, we’ll all be listening.

I’ve cc’ed Rich Conrad in hopes that he will correct me if I’ve misspoken here.

– Bruce Bassett, City Council, via email

From Rich Conrad, City Manager

Bruce did in fact cc Rich Conrad, City Manager, who further stated:

Bruce has stated the situation correctly. Sound Transit owns and operates the Lot and they will not set aside spaces for local residents anywhere in the ST boundaries. We have tried to make the case many times that MI is a unique location since we are the last stop before entering Seattle and are well-served by an Interstate hiway that simply queues up drivers for the eastside to use the MI P&R lot. They’re not convinced or concerned.

We are working at ideas to create additional spaces in the Town Center that would be MI-only spcaes (or at least much harder to get to for people coming off the freeway). If we are lucky and successful we would get the State or ST to fund the construction and we would include it in one of the future Town Center re-development projects. It would be considered “mitigation” for closing the center roadway to cars if/when light rail is added (or worse yet, if tolling is implemented). Unfortunately, at best, these ideas would come together 6 to 8 years from now. I’m sorry I don’t have a bette near-term solution for you. Yes, it is complex….

Lobbying Sound Transit Board members to consider “dedicated spaces” might help. Our eastside reps are Mary-Alice Burleigh, Councilmember at Kirkland, Fred Butler, Councilmember at Issaquah and John Marchione, Mayor of Redmond. Last time I talked to them, they at least listened closely – but no promises.

– Rich Conrad, City Manager, via email

So there you have it. We got our Park and Ride built for free by Sound Transit, but we have to play by their rules. Which, to be fair, seem to have been open and straightforward since the P&R was planned. We probably should have built another level for residents.

Now it seems like our best option is to lobby Sound Transit.  In the meantime it seems some additional parking at the Town Center is a decent option, if less convenient than the P&R itself.  So thanks to the City Council for working towards that. And here is:

Who to Call to Get a Spot at the P&R

Per our City Manager, call these folks and tell them we need to get to work. I looked up their emails:

  • Alice Burleigh, Councilmember at Kirkland- mburleigh@ci.kirkland.wa.us
  • Fred Butler, Councilmember at Issaquah- fredb@ci.issaquah.wa.us
  • John Marchione, Mayor of Redmond- mayor@redmond.gov

For the record, Sound Transit has done some great work in our mass-transit-challenged metro area, and I support them. But I’ll email and ask politely for a place to park.

Construction at the Park-and-Ride

Back to the mundane following the Tent City debate: today the road in front of the Park & Ride was repaved. I wonder why- it didn’t seem to be in poor shape.

In fact, the only thing that’s been a problem with the new Park & Ride- excluding the fact that it shouldn’t be as new as it is, given that it opened a year late– is that it’s starting to get full already. If it’s bad in the summer, when people are on vacation or bike-commuting to work, it’ll be worse in the winter.

Anyway, here are some more gratuitous big-truck pictures:

Mercer Island Park and Ride Finally Open

The Mercer Island Park and Ride, a feat of engineering on a scale with the Tacoma Narrows Bridge, the Denny Regrade, and other wonders of Seattle-Area Engineering, is finally open:


Even though it looks like a humble two-story parking garage next to a bus stop, it must be more than that or it wouldn’t have cost over $16 million and taken two years to build. My guess is that the Park-And-Ride is secretly

  • A military bunker
  • Mercer Island’s only decent grocery store
  • Mike Huckabee’s campaign headquarters

The P-R was originally supposed to open last March. The new park and ride means that commuters like me don’t have to walk 15 minutes from the other side of the North shopping center, having parked somewhat illegally because too few spots are available at the interim Park-And-Ride, and potentially having slipped and fallen when there’s ice on the sidewalks. Yes, I speak from experience.