[Grime/Glitter] Seattle’s Mercer Problem

Seattle traffic is beyond capacity. A stretch of I-5 (northbound and southbound) that usually takes around 5 minutes to drive through in light traffic now exceeds 20 minutes when all the commuter single-occupancy vehicles leave their gigs at 5PM. Wade it out until 7PM and it’s less terrible. The traffic focuses until, and dissipates after, one point: Mercer Street. Our new neighbor has invited all of their friends without the least bit of consideration for anyone else.

How much longer will we accept this?

The infrastructure for Mercer Street allows for only so much through traffic. Northbound and southbound traffic weave. There’s a 3-minute light cycle if you take the left into Fairview Avenue- I’ve waited through many red lights. That northbound traffic from Tacoma is a dream compared to the southbound traffic from Everett. Doesn’t matter if it’s 6AM or 8AM, the traffic is bad, and at 10AM the traffic goes for miles.

Southbound traffic from Mercer has a different weave.

If you’re driving from the Southlake Union area to Bellevue, you’ll need to cut across three lanes of traffic to get to I-90. When it’s rush hour, and people try to safely change lines, the result is gridlock in some pockets and 5+ car-lengths of empty pockets in other parts of the congestion. I can’t imagine up a road infrastructure that could help appease these eastbound commuter while enabling southbound traffic to keep on going.

What can be done?

Work from home options help. Many companies now seem to encourage people to work from home on Fridays. Federal holidays are lighter still, though the recent holiday season was only marginally better than an average day. More remote work might mean less burden on our road infrastructure, although I’m not sure that would help at the same rate as new workers start coming in to work.

That should boost our local economy.

Shouldn’t there be enough money around for road projects? Construction crews are transforming the Southlake Union landscape on a daily basis. I returned after six months away once to find skyscrapers and canyons where there was once flatland. Can any of that construction help our roads? Probably not. There should be enough entrepreneurial-minded folks around.

They’re just idling in stop-and-go traffic.

When I give myself plenty of time to drive or walk to the bus stop, I have time to decompress and think up new ideas. My stress levels increase when I’m rushing to clock in right at the bell, which carries over through the day and into the week. Productivity would increase across any company that would invest in being traffic-conscious. Not just minor discounts, either.

We need to address this traffic stress while we still can.

We can start by asking ourselves how we can help. If someone’s trying to turn into your lane, let them in. Don’t wait until the last minute to change lanes. Know the road you’re driving on. Do you need to drive in? Can you telecommute?

Can you leave a few minutes earlier?

Sources: Personal experience. Photos taken as passenger.

Quotes: None

Inspirations: Idle minds in hours of traffic each week…

Related: None

My big goal is writing. My most important goal is writing "The Story." All other goals should work toward that central goal. My proudest moment is the most recent time I overcame some fear, which should have been today. I'm a better zombie than I was yesterday. I'm not better than you and you're not better than me. Let's strive to be better every day.