The next stage of the improvements to Mercer Street in Seattle are about to get under way, and that means more construction for drivers to navigate.
Drivers are used to Mercer Street being one way between the waterfront and Dexter Avenue. The new phase (Mercer West) will convert Mercer into a two way street with three lanes in each direction. The underpass beneath State Route 99 will also be widened.
During construction expect a major pinch-point where Mercer dives under Highway 99 - it will be narrowed to just two lanes eastbound rather than four. And 99 will be reduced to just two lanes each way between Harrison and Valley streets. (see below). Eric Tweit, project manager for Mercer West, said the lane closures are expected to start in early May and construction will last two and half years.
The sidewalk still stay put, but on just one side of the street. SR 99 will be restricted to two lanes in each direction in the immediate area. The off ramps to Broad Street and Mercer Street will eventually close.
Tweit said travel times will increase, though it's impossible to predict how much. He advised drivers to give themselves extra time once the closures go into effect.
To offset some of the backup, they plan to open Broad Street back up to eastbound drivers and make some improvements to take advantage of those lanes.
The Seattle Department of Transportation is holding a public meeting between 4:30 p.m. and 7 p.m. Thursday in the Rainier Room at Seattle Center to help explain the changes.