It’s nothing new… the “Mercer Mess” has been around 57 years (at least)
SEATTLE– The city of Seattle is paying for a new traffic cameras and sensors for Mercer Street in order to bring some relief to commuters. If you’ve ever been to the Space Needle or the Key Arena, you’ve likely gotten stuck in traffic on Mercer. It’s even earned its own nickname, the Mercer Mess.
60,000 vehicles travel on Mercer on average every day.
City leaders have been working to find a solution to the Mercer Mess for years…. 57 years, at least.
In 1960, voters gave their approval to build the Bay Freeway. It would have been an elevated freeway across the south end of Lake Union.
“They wanted to build a freeway from I-5 over what’s now Mercer Street to Seattle Center with off ramps to a parking garage for big sporting events in that giant stadium,” said local historian Feliks Banel.
He was referring to the Kingdome, which eventually opened in 1976 in a different part of town, in Seattle’s SoDo neighborhood.
Plans for the proposed Bay Freeway were discussed for years, and citizen groups voiced their opposition to it. After a series of public hearings and a civil suit, a King county Superior Court judge in 1971 ruled there was a major deviation from the voter approved plan from 1960… and the idea of a freeway was sent back to the voters. In 1972, the Bay Freeway project was rejected by voters and all plans were scrapped. Goodbye, Mercer (Bay) Freeway. The congestion? Still there.
In the years following, Mercer Street underwent several projects to try and reduce congestion. In fact, The Seattle Times reported in 1990 there had been 58 studies in 30 years to try and find a solution.
In 2010, plans began to turn Mercer into a two-way street, and by 2012 that plan came to fruition. A bike path and widened sidewalks were also added.
So here we are in 2017. Traffic cameras and sensors are being added, in another shot at solving the Mercer Mess problem. Will it mean relief for drivers? I guess we’ll just have to wait and see.