Light Rail Negotiations and I-90 Access Update - Olympia Meeting
Jan 25, 2017 - Mercer Island Meets with Washington State Department of Transportation and Sound Transit in Olympia.
At its January 17 meeting, the City Council noted that a “Principals’ Meeting” was taking place Monday, January 23, 2017, in Olympia with all parties involved in the ongoing negotiations over I-90 access options and light rail construction impacts (and not about overall loss of mobility mitigation).
At the Principals’ Meeting, Mayor Bruce Bassett, Deputy Mayor Debbie Bertlin, and City Manager Julie Underwood met with the leaders of Sound Transit and the Washington State Department of Transportation (WSDOT) in Olympia, hosted by State Representative Judy Clibborn.
Sound Transit staff presented a study that examined a number of freeway configurations and access options, projected travel times and potential mitigation and improvements. Although the study is not yet finalized, Sound Transit authorized the release of the draft data, available here:
City Manager Julie Underwood also provided the “Maintain Mobility” petition signed by over 2,500 residents as well as the many letters from the Mercer Island PTAs and School Board.
“We went armed with our residents’ stories, concerns, and questions. These fueled our strong message to the transportation agencies that they must honor our historic agreements,” said Deputy Mayor Debbie Bertlin.
The message at the meeting was straightforward: honor historical agreements and WSDOT’s long-standing commitments to Island mobility, specifically the need to maintain access to I-90 for SOV traffic via Island Crest Way and future use of the new R8A lanes. Any plan to divert traffic from Island Crest Way to alternate routes to I-90 is a public safety danger that overloads secondary streets, passes schools and stresses the Island’s infrastructure.
Mayor Bruce Bassett said, “We wanted to make clear that while access studies are important, past agreements matter and access options aren’t just about minutes, they’re about community safety and quality of life.” The City’s presentation is available here:
The Council and community have been consistent in communicating the need for clarity from WSDOT and all negotiating parties. Based on the Principals’ Meeting, attendees unfortunately have every reason to believe that WSDOT plans to deny SOV access at the Island Crest Way westbound on-ramp and use of R8A lanes. WSDOT Secretary Roger Millar agreed to send a letter to the Mercer Island community by the end of the month detailing what short-term access to I-90 will look like.
The City Council will take up the WSDOT response letter and overall state of negotiations at its next Council meeting, February 6. The City encourages the community to submit its questions before this meeting and/or in person. The Council will answer as many questions as possible at that time and welcomes ongoing input and feedback from the community via Email or the City’s online comment form at: www.mercergov.org/Rail_Comments.
For questions about Light Rail and I-90 Access, visit the City's FAQ page.