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Open Letter: Pinch Point at West Mercer Street

RW Mercerecently SDOT installed at mid-street a median island for pedestrians at the intersection of 5th Avenue West and West Mercer Street.   Seems to me however that putting this pinch point in the middle of West Mercer Street is more about obstructing the flow of traffic.

A request is in to SDOT asking for the documents that establish that this installation is consistent with the purpose and need of the West Phase of the Mercer Corridor Project.  The understanding of this project was that it is in no small part is related to the construction of the deep bored tunnel, and that it is supposed to facilitate the transition of traffic that has historically utilized the Alaskan Way Viaduct going southbound so that in the future it may efficiently use Mercer Place to West Mercer Street and on eastward for access to the north portal of the tunnel as a means to access SR 99 southern bound through the tunnel.

It is not an accident that these so called “pedestrian friendly” installations are designed to encroach on travel lanes, even to the point of ridiculousness when it comes to the lane size they leave for motor vehicles, and that they are being designed and constructed so that their magnitude will damage people’s vehicles if they fail to navigate the choke point just so.  It is clear from looking at this particular median island that it would do a great deal of damage to the undercarriage, alignment, frame, or axle of a car if a driver is unlucky enough to hit it, even glance off of it.

Typically also, consistent with its antagonistic attitude towards motor vehicle owners and operators, the City is doing little to mark many of these middle of the road installations, and does nothing to even warn drivers that these obstructions are in the road ahead of them.  This is particularly critical at this intersection.  For drivers that are coming up from Elliott Avenue, eastbound on Mercer Place, surprise, surprise, as they  curve to the left to head east on Mercer, all of a sudden there is this concrete monolith in the lane, that if the driver fails to deviate from the natural curve in the road coming up from Mercer Place, they will pile into this concrete bulwark!

Frankly it is getting pretty tiresome, SDOT and its increasing efforts to obstruct the city’s streets.  It is evident more and more around Seattle.  There is no true City interest or plans in keeping traffic moving, getting people to their destinations in a timely and efficient manner – no, the game now is how can the City slow down traffic, create choke points and bottlenecks like this one at 5th and Mercer, how can it narrow the streets so that they are barely navigable by car, how many stop signs and stop lights can it install at successive intersections, and even the efforts to mathematically ensure that motor vehicle traffic is not able to go much past one or two intersections, even on arterials, without being caught by a light signal.

All this on top of poor planning policies that continue to concentrate commercial construction for mega-employer companies in South Lake Union and Downtown, with no thought to the congestion that is being created by these policies.

Filed in: City of Seattle, SDOT, Transportation, Urban Planning Tags: 

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