'Mercer Mess' will continue to be a mess, says McGinn


by KING 5 News


Posted on September 5, 2012 at 4:48 PM

Updated Wednesday, Sep 26 at 9:07 AM

It cost $164 million to fix the "Mercer Mess." But when it's finished, it still won't be fixed, said Seattle's mayor.

Ten days have passed since transportation officials opened the new and improved Mercer Street. After several tweaks, Seattle Department of Transportation (SDOT) said traffic is moving smoother.

But Mayor Mike McGinn on Wednesday said the Mercer Mess will continue to be a mess.

"I think a lot of people said we are going to solve the Mercer Mess and they knew from traffic estimates that was not going to happen," McGinn said.

So, why did  taxpayers invest millions of dollars in Mercer if it's going to continue to be a choke point?

McGinn said the Mercer project has led to unprecedented investment in South Lake Union, bringing jobs and revenue to the city. He thinks building more mass transit is a better solution than fixing the street.

"To say its going to fix everything, I don't think that was ever true," said McGinn.

After 44 years of being a one-way street, drivers are getting accustomed to the two-way change. SDOT has added more signs and fined tuned the signal timing.

"We know it's improved, flowing better, but obviously Mercer is highly congested, 8,000 cars a day," said Rick Sheridan, Seattle Transportation Department. "There will continue to be delays since we're still in construction."

A better flow, but still clogged, even after the Mercer money is spent.

It's not all taxpayer money that was spent. Paul Allen's Vulcan Company, which owns most of the South Lake Union neighborhood, put millions into the Mercer project, which is expected to be finished next summer.

KING 5's Linda Brill contributed to this report.