Faced with the closure of the I-90 bridges’ center roadway later this year, local concerned citizens are mobilizing to preserve Mercer Island’s special access to the I-90 HOV lanes. Among these efforts is an innovative proposal to reconfigure the lanes in a manner different from WSDOT’s official R8A plan.
“We’re totally committed to multi-faceted transportation solutions that benefit the entire Puget Sound region,” said Elias Incognito, president of citizens group Myopia Mercer Island, “as long as Mercer Island residents continue to have the I-90 access that was promised to us by the 1976 Memorandum Agreement, the 2004 Amendment, and the 1215 Magna Carta.”
Myopia Mercer Island’s new proposal for I-90 vehicle traffic is known as “WE-WE”, a name derived from how it assigns lanes. WE-WE is similar to the official R8A plan in that it provides for four lanes of motor vehicle traffic in each direction of the I-90 corridor. But whereas R8A provides for three general-purpose lanes and one HOV lane in each direction, WE-WE dedicates three lanes in each direction entirely to Mercer Island traffic, based on vehicle origin or destination:
Lane 1: Waterfront homes
Lane 2: East of Island Crest Way
Lane 3: West of Island Crest Way
Lane 4: Everyone else [HOV and all off-island traffic]
The WE-WE plan is extremely popular among all facets of the Mercer Island community. According to a recent survey on Nextdoor.com, 94% of Islanders favor WE-WE over R8A, 41% list jet skis as their preferred means of crossing Lake Washington, and 62% believe that the Mercer Island City Council is a satanic cult.
While many Islanders fear that the upcoming changes to I-90 will irreversibly damage the Mercer Island lifestyle, some residents see an upside. Observed one: “If it’s harder for us to get off Mercer Island, then it’s harder for everyone else to get on Mercer Island.”