Where can I find a comprehensive list of all FAQ's and their answers?

Please check the Document Library for these summaries

Will future bus passengers being dropped at the Park & Ride on the north side of N Mercer Way create vehicle delays as they cross the road to reach the light rail station?

Traffic consultants analyzed traffic operations at the North Mercer Way and 80th Avenue SE intersection for existing conditions and with the proposed crosswalk safety improvement that would disallow left turns from 80th Ave when pedestrians are crossing North Mercer Way. This safety improvement will reduce the potential for vehicle-vehicle, vehicle-pedestrian collisions.

It was found that adding the safety improvement to protect pedestrians will increase intersection delay for vehicles by approximately 3 seconds during the AM and PM peak hours. This small increase does not change the desired Level of Service that the City has set for this signalized intersection (per the City’s Adopted Comprehensive Plan).


What is the vision for Metro bus service from Mercer Island to Eastside cities?

Metro strives to provide the best regional service network to its customers, one that offers a convenient and competitive alternative to driving alone. Metro published METRO CONNECTS in 2016, laying out a preliminary plan for future regional service when East Link opens. This document was part of extensive public outreach process. To improve service when Link light rail opens, Metro will reinvest service hours that are currently used to run buses into Seattle from Eastside communities.

This reinvestment will restructure and enhance Eastside service to compliment the new light rail network. It will connect Eastside communities not served by East Link, including Issaquah, North Bend, and Sammamish, to light rail as well as jobs and services on Mercer Island. Specifically for Mercer Island, this service will aim to reduce vehicle trips and parking demand from the Eastside on Mercer Island streets and public parking facilities. It is anticipated that ST Express Bus routes currently serving Mercer Island will either be eliminated (ST 550) or terminate at South Bellevue (ST 554). There is no bus service envisioned between Mercer Island and Seattle.

For Metro service, Mercer Island was identified as the fastest and most logical westbound terminus and transfer point to light rail (i.e. the place where Metro service begins, ends, and pauses for required driver rest periods) due to its proximity and accessibility to the I-90 HOV lanes. There will be approximately 4 spaces on Mercer Island for buses to layover, which will limit non-local bus volumes to below existing levels that serve the island. In 2021, roughly 18-24 months before East Link opens, Metro will lead an extensive public engagement and planning process to make final decisions about the planned service outlined in METRO CONNECTS.

How will buses coming from Eastside communities navigate on Mercer Island?

Westbound buses will exit I-90 from the HOV off-ramp onto northbound 80th Ave. Buses will take a left (westbound) on North Mercer Way and drop off customers at the existing bus stop of the north side of North Mercer Way. Buses will then make a 180-degree turn at the proposed roundabout at 77th Ave and travel back east to pick up customers at the existing bus stop on the south side of North Mercer Way. Buses will then turn right (southbound) on 80th Ave to access the eastbound I-90 HOV on-ramp and return to the Eastside.

How was the proposed operational configuration developed?

All three agencies (i.e., Sound Transit, City of Mercer Island, and Metro), with WSDOT consultation, collaborated in an effort to study and identify bus/rail integration opportunities on Mercer Island per the following eight goals/objectives:

a) Creates a seamless transfer experience for the customer that is intuitive, safe, barrier-free, weather-protected, and efficient

b) Minimizes transfer walk distance and number of street crossings for bus/rail transfers

c) Ready for operation when the East Link light rail service begins in 2023

d) A cost-effective design that represents a transparent and appropriate use of public funds

e) Maximizes benefits to Mercer Island residents and local employers

f) Minimizes potential overall property impacts and local community access impacts and maintains through-vehicular traffic on the 80th Avenue SE bridge crossing

g) Provides excellent multi-modal access for customers while minimizing general pedestrian, bicycle, and vehicle mobility impacts near bus drop-off locations

h) Limits diesel idling and limits regional bus circulation through the Town Center.

These joint goals and objectives, combined with meeting Metro operational needs, serve as the basis for evaluating refinements to the modified 77th Avenue SE Configuration as outlined in the Settlement Agreement.

Why is Mercer Island a better connection point to light rail than South Bellevue for Eastside communities?

To access South Bellevue, Metro customers would have to travel off I-90 onto Bellevue Way, north to the station, and then board Link and double back down Bellevue Way to I-90. Particularly eastbound, the merge from Bellevue Way to I-90 is extremely congested and presents safety and operational challenges for buses merging across several lanes to get from Bellevue Way into the center HOV lane. This travel time, assuming a 5-minute light rail trip from South Bellevue to Mercer Island, is 10 minutes longer during peak travel periods than traveling directly from Eastgate to Mercer Island.

In addition, direct service to Mercer Island avoids out-of-direction travel and provides safer, quicker connections to/from the I-90 HOV lanes, resulting in faster bus travel times and discouraging Eastside drivers from parking on Mercer Island to reach Link light rail. Finally, Metro has already planned to completely fill the capacity for bus transfers at South Bellevue Station and cannot plan for additional routes there.

How will bus volumes change along North Mercer Way when Link light rail opens?

Bus volumes from off-island locations will decrease when Link light rail opens. Today, there are over 30 buses per hour serving Mercer Island from off-island locations during peak commuter periods. When Link light rail opens, bus service from off-island locations is anticipated at about 20 buses per hour during peak commuter periods.

How will the proposed bus layover spaces operate on Mercer Island?

After dropping off passengers on the north side of North Mercer Way, buses will utilize the layover spaces on the north or south sides of North Mercer Way for operator rest periods and to maintain schedules. Buses will then pick-up passengers on the south side of North Mercer Way before accessing the eastbound I-90 HOV on-ramp to return to the Eastside.

Metro will need to utilize layover space on the north and south sides of North Mercer Way to meet King County Metro’s operational needs. Average layover times refer to the time required for operator rest periods and are generally uniform, scheduled to be about 15 minutes. A reasonable range is 10-20 minutes. Metro has an incentive to minimize time not spent providing service.

If bus volumes are decreasing, why is additional curb space needed for buses?

Expansion of curb space is related to layover needs. Layover is short-term parking spaces for buses that allow for mandated operator rest periods and schedule adherence. As indicated in Question 1, Mercer Island will be the westbound terminus for restructured routes, thus requiring space for short layover periods to allow for mandated driver rest periods. Some of the curb space will allow flexibility for the future as new and emerging services and technologies come into play that affect bus service as well as other modes of travel. Nearer to the opening of East Link, Metro will lead public outreach to fine-tune preliminary plans and develop a specific service plan.

What about the design for the 80th Avenue station entrance plaza and landscaping?

During East Link final design, the 80th Avenue entrance was brought to 60% design. After the 2015 Mercer Island Listening Tour, where the public expressed concern for the 80th Avenue SE Transit Integration option, the design was paused as discussion continued between Sound Transit and the City of Mercer Island through the Settlement Agreement process.

By the 3rd Quarter of 2019, Sound Transit will engage the broader Mercer Island community about the landscape design in front of the station along 80th Avenue SE and its connection to the future Tully’s site commuter parking and mixed-use project and Aubrey Davis Park (Master Plan).

The areas in front of station entrances are to conform to the Sound Transit Design Criteria Manual (DCM) and the design and construction of such facilities will be managed by Sound Transit. The design will not go through a formal Design Review. As with previous designs for the station components, input from the MI Design Commission, Arts Council and the community will be gathered. This area is located on a structure owned by WSDOT and is therefore subject to its review as well.

How will local intra-island bus service change on Mercer Island?

In 2021, roughly 18-24 months before East Link opens, Metro will lead an extensive public engagement and planning process to give Mercer Island residents and visitors the opportunity to provide input and feedback on transit services and routing when East Link opens. This process will guide Metro’s decisions about the existing Route 204, Route 630, and other transit and mobility services on Mercer Island.

How would travel times compare between today's all-bus journey (Issaquah to Seattle) vs the bus+rail journey of the future (w/transfer on Mercer Island)?

At this time, it's too early to know future bus schedules and exact bus+rail travel times. However, the rail tracks will be in protected right of way from Bellevue all the way to downtown Seattle, so will not be subject to traffic delays.

What is the project’s history? What Environmental Review has been conducted?

The transit interchange project (also known as “bus/rail integration”) was first included in the East Link Final Environmental Impact Statement (FEIS) in 2011. Based on further study, community outreach, and consultation with the City of Mercer Island, WSDOT, and Metro, Sound Transit developed two additional configurations for transit integration on Mercer Island that differ from the plan evaluated in the original East Link FEIS. All three configurations were evaluated in the 2017 State Environmental Policy Act (SEPA) Addendum to the East Link FEIS.

1) FEIS Configuration - The FEIS Configuration most resembles how buses currently operate on Mercer Island, with bus stops on both the north and south sides of North Mercer Way

2) 77th Avenue SE Configuration - The 77th Avenue SE Configuration would include the construction of a new roundabout at the intersection of 77th Avenue SE and North Mercer Way, replacing the current three-way junction (or T-intersection) at this location.

3) 80th Avenue SE Configuration - The 80th Avenue SE Configuration would have routed buses in a counter-clockwise direction through a bus transfer area along southbound 80th Avenue SE in front of the future light rail station entrance. This configuration is no longer under consideration, per the Settlement Agreement.

Has Sound Transit coordinated with the City regarding the Aubrey Davis Park Master Plan?

Sound Transit is engaging with the City of Mercer Island regarding Aubrey Davis Park Master Plan as outlined in the Settlement Agreement, which will include providing safe access to the future light rail station and re-routing of the I-90 bicycle route to avoid conflicts in the Mercer Island Park & Ride area. Some improvements adjacent to the MI Park & Ride have been recently completed.

Will the community be able to ask questions and provide comments on this project?

Yes, the community is invited to ask questions about the future King County Metro level of service and operation as they relate to transit integration and the City’s current and future mobility goals through Let’s Talk Mercer Island. In addition, the project team will provide a project update to the Mercer Island City Council at a study session on Tuesday, March 19, 2019 at 5:30 pm at City Hall. This session is open to the public and will be recorded.

During East Link’s Final Design process, Sound Transit heard from the public that their preference was for the transit integration and roundabout to take place at 77th Ave. This was reflected in the 2017 Settlement Agreement between Sound Transit and Mercer Island.  At this time, there are no project decisions that require additional meaningful public engagement as the location of the roundabout has not changed from East Link Final Design and the proposed transit interchange implements the Settlement Agreement.