WSDOT to deny I-90 HOV access, close westbound Island Crest Way ramp to Mercer Island solo drivers

February 4, 2017 | by Erin Sirianni

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[UPDATE from the City: Due to recent developments regarding the City’s I-90 Loss of Mobility Negotiations, as further explained below, we are canceling the February 8 Council meeting and rescheduling it for Monday, February 13 at 7:00 pmCongressman Adam Smith has stepped in to assist the City by arranging a meeting with Governor Jay Inslee. This meeting may inform the Council’s decision, so the Special Meeting will be postponed from Wednesday to Monday.]


Lacey V. Murrow Memorial Bridge looking west from Mercer Island

The official word is in, and the City of Mercer Island will continue to face an uphill battle to preserve mobility on the island.

The Seattle Times and the Mercer Island Reporter have now reported on a February 1, 2017 letter from the Washington State Department of Transportation (WSDOT) Secretary Roger Millar to the City of Mercer Island.

The letter formally states that upon closure of the I-90 center roadways in June 2017, Mercer Island single occupancy vehicles (SOVs) will lose access to HOV lanes as well as access to I-90 via the Island Crest Way and downtown 77th Street westbound ramps.

The City of Mercer Island and local community groups had long been advocating for a better outcome. Two-thousand community members signed a petition toward maintaining mobility and transit options. Even The Seattle Times Editorial Board published a November 2016 editorial directed at transportation officials: “Don’t renege on long-standing I-90 agreements during light-rail construction.”

However, in the letter, WSDOT states that it is “obligated to comply” with a Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) August 2016 letter prohibiting SOV access in HOV lanes.

The City Council will discuss next steps, including possible litigation, at its February 8th Council Meeting (rescheduled from today) and invites comments and questions in advance (submit to www.mercergov.org/Rail_Comments).

Links:
WSDOT Refuses to Honor Historic I-90 Access Agreements: Council Discussion Feb 8 [City of Mercer Island]
WSDOT stonewalls Mercer Island on I-90 access | Council to discuss response at Feb. 6 meeting [Mercer Island Reporter]
State says no to special I-90 HOV access for Mercer Island solo drivers [The Seattle Times]