Posted on August 24, 2012 at 9:39 PM
Sunday, Aug 26 at 5:20 PM
SEATTLE -- Work is underway to turn Mercer Street In Seattle into a two way street for the first time in 44 years.
Crews have closed the on and off ramps to Interstate 5 and the main thoroughfare for the weekend in preparation of opening the two-way street in time for Monday's commute.
It could finally mean relief for the 80,000 drivers who deal with the Mercer mess on a normal weekday.
The Seattle Department of Transportation says the current eastbound lanes will become the new westbound lanes. Over the weekend, workers will finish the new eastbound lanes that run next door.
The new path is a straight shot to and from the freeway with westbound traffic, connecting to Broad Street on a ramp that will also open Monday. As a result, Broad Street between 9th Avenue and the new ramp will close permanently.
SDOT warns that this next phase does not mean all the slowdowns will disappear. Much of the work and the closures will shift over to Fairview Avenue and Valley street, nearby.
“Expect it to continue to be congested until we're done with the overall project,” Brady said.
They hope to have those parts completed by next summer.
Some lane closures already started on Fairview, and Friday night drivers got a taste of what's to come.
"It doesn't make sense," Gloria Johnston said. "I feel like they're just moving the traffic around."
Johnston said the last few years have been "rough" and she was hoping things would improve with Monday's opening.
SDOT says they believe the work on nearby streets will cause some problems on Mercer, but overall the drive should be better. Crews hope to have all the work for this part of the Mercer construction project done by early 2013.
Work on the next phase of Mercer construction, west of Dexter Avenue, is also expected to begin in 2013.