Reopening of Fairview Avenue North marks milestone in Mercer Mess

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by HEATHER GRAF / KING 5 News

Bio | Email | Follow: @HeatherGrafK5

KING5.com

Posted on March 4, 2013 at 11:28 PM

Updated Wednesday, Dec 4 at 10:24 PM

The Seattle Department of Transportation calls it a milestone in the Mercer Mess. Fairview Avenue North is set to reopen to two-way traffic this weekend.

The road has been restricted to one northbound lane between Harrison and Valleys streets since August of 2012.

"It's just crazy. It's like going through a tunnel!" said one angry driver. "I don't even know where to go, and I've lived here for years!"

It's a frustration shared by drivers who travel the Mercer Corridor every day and by businesses that call the area home.

"Yes, without question. I don't think there's anyone in here or around this neighborhood that isn't ready for this to be over," said Mike Hillyer, who manages Daniel's Broiler Restaurant.

The restaurant's biggest challenge has been helping its customers navigate the detours, roadblocks, and orange cones. They get dozens of calls each night from patrons who get lost on the way to the restaurant. 

"It's a little bit of a maze to try to get through the traffic," said Hillyer.

He says they've learned how to deal with the problem with extra signage and by giving customers specific directions when they call to make a reservation.

Hillyer hopes the re-opening of Fairview Avenue North will make a difference.

Drivers we spoke with aren't so sure.

"I don't think so," said one driver.  "I mean, it's congestion all the time."

The Seattle Department of Transportation understands that concern. A spokesperson said that the first few days after Saturday's reopening of Fairview Avenue North will probably be a bit confusing for everyone, as they adjust to another change.

In addition, the congestion isn't necessarily going away, it will just be shifted to another section of roadway within the project.

It is a milestone, though, because when Fairview Avenue North reopens, crews will move on to the final stage of Mercer East construction. That will involve some additional road closures around Valley Street. Work in that area should be finished sometime in July.

In preparation for fully reopening Fairview Avenue North to traffic, Mercer Street will be restricted to two lanes in each direction starting at 8 p.m. on Friday through Saturday morning.

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