Mercer Island Transit Interchange

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The Mercer Island Transit Interchange is the integration of bus transit service from the Eastside with East Link light rail. When East Link opens for service in 2023, some bus routes from the Eastside to Seattle will terminate at Mercer Island Station, where passengers will transfer to/from light rail.

Learn more by reading the articles below, as well as the FAQs and studying the Document Library; use the tools below to Ask a Question or Post a Comment. [Note: FAQ's were last updated Oct 2020]

The Mercer Island Transit Interchange is the integration of bus transit service from the Eastside with East Link light rail. When East Link opens for service in 2023, some bus routes from the Eastside to Seattle will terminate at Mercer Island Station, where passengers will transfer to/from light rail.

Learn more by reading the articles below, as well as the FAQs and studying the Document Library; use the tools below to Ask a Question or Post a Comment. [Note: FAQ's were last updated Oct 2020]

  • Third Letter to the Community from Your City Council

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    26 Oct 2020
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    (October 26, 2020) City Files Lawsuit to Enforce Terms of 2017 Settlement Agreement with Sound Transit

    Dear Mercer Island Community,

    We write to provide an update on the City of Mercer Island’s discussions with Sound Transit related to the Mercer Island Transit Interchange and the 2017 Settlement Agreement. As you may recall, this was previously discussed in community letters in May and August.

    For more than a year, the City has warned Sound Transit that their plans are inconsistent with the terms of the Settlement Agreement. Last Friday, Sound Transit submitted a Right-of-Way Use Permit Application that violated the terms of the Settlement Agreement. As a result, the City Council voted to authorize the City Manager to file a lawsuit against Sound Transit.

    The City fought hard in 2017 to achieve an agreement that facilitated the safe movement of pedestrians and bicycles and minimized traffic on the north side of North Mercer Way. This was to ensure that Mercer Island commuters accessing Westbound I-90 from Island Crest Way would not be negatively impacted by Sound Transit buses. The proposal from Sound Transit deviates radically from the agreed configuration and ignores the core tenets of the Settlement Agreement that was approved by a previous City Council, forcing us to make today’s decision.

    The City Council wants to be very clear: this is not about stopping the progress of the East Link light rail. We remain excited about the arrival of light rail and the opportunities it will offer to the Mercer Island Community, our local businesses, and the region. Our good faith efforts to uphold the Settlement Agreement, not delay the permit process, and protect Mercer Island were met with Sound Transit’s obfuscation and efforts to change the rules.

    Through this legal action, the City demands that Sound Transit reconsider their current re-design of North Mercer Way because of the drastic adverse impacts it will have for the Mercer Island community. This deviation from the agreed configuration will have broad impacts on the lives of our community members, including commuting to our jobs, taking families to activities and medical appointments, and generally traveling on and off Mercer Island.

    The City Council cannot let Sound Transit unilaterally rewrite the Settlement Agreement when the City has performed all of its obligations. At the end of the day, a deal is a deal. Sound Transit is not honoring their side of the bargain, and we are confident that the courts will agree.

    Residents can find the latest information and documents on the City’s Let’s Talk Website and we urge you to share this letter and the online fact sheets and information with your family, neighbors and friends.

    -Mercer Island City Council

    Mayor Benson Wong
    Deputy Mayor Wendy Weiker
    Councilmember Lisa Anderl
    Councilmember Jake Jacobson
    Councilmember Salim Nice
    Councilmember Craig Reynolds
    Councilmember David Rosenbaum

  • City Continues Discussions with Sound Transit on 90% Design Plans

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    02 Oct 2020
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    October 2, 2020 - Today, the City sent a letter to Sound Transit conveying the ongoing concerns it has that Sound Transit is not honoring the deal it struck with the City three years ago. We continue to provide detailed and expansive technical comments on design plans submitted by Sound Transit and are administering the permit review process consistent with the 2017 Settlement Agreement.

    As set forth in detail in the letter, the City is continuing its timely review of Sound Transit’s permits and plans in compliance with the Settlement Agreement and is in no way delaying progress of the project. Likewise, the City also expects compliance with the Settlement Agreement from Sound Transit, and has asked that Sound Transit participate in mediation to resolve ongoing safety and traffic concerns related to the bus-rail interchange at North Mercer Way as presented in the 90% Design Plans. The goal of any mediation would be to reach agreement with Sound Transit that acknowledges the bargain struck by both sides. We remain hopeful that Sound Transit and King County Metro will join us at the table in the near future.

    We urge all citizens to read the latest letter from the City and find more information on the Mercer Island Transit Interchange project here on the Let's Talk website.

  • City Receives 90% Design Plans

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    In late August, the City received Sound Transit's 90% Design Plans for the roundabout and transit interchange. City staff are reviewing the document and will provide technical comments to Sound Transit. Residents who wish to comment should transmit those directly to Sound Transit. Download the plans (21 MB) here.

  • Second Letter to the Community from Your City Council

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    25 Aug 2020
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    (August 25, 2020) City Prepared to Enforce Terms of Sound Transit Settlement Agreement on Bus/Rail Interchange Design

    Dear Mercer Island Community,

    In May 2020, we wrote an open letter to all residents encouraging active engagement in Sound Transit’s planning for modifications to North Mercer Way that will allow bus passengers to transfer to and from the East Link light Rail (“Bus/Rail Interchange”). The community had an opportunity to comment on Sound Transit’s 60% plans (download here) during a June 2020 online open house facilitated by Sound Transit. City staff also provided technical review comments to Sound Transit’s 30% and 60% plan iterations. Sound Transit has recently informed the City that it will finalize its plans (100%) and submit its construction permit application in September 2020.

    It is essential for all Islanders to understand that the Bus/Rail Interchange, as currently proposed by Sound Transit, is in breach of the 2017 Settlement Agreement between Sound Transit and the City with the potential to adversely impact traffic patterns and public safety for all of our residents. We have notified Sound Transit numerous times that its current plan, which includes new curb cuts to accommodate bus layovers along North Mercer Way, fails to meet the terms of the Settlement Agreement which explicitly forbade these features. We have also voiced concerns over future operations that this plan enables, including the high volume of bicycles and pedestrians that will be expected to mix with cars and buses adjacent to the busy Park & Ride location once East Link light Rail is operational. Despite the City’s reasonable objections and requests for essential information, Sound Transit has repeatedly ignored our concerns and insisted on unilaterally implementing its design plans.

    Unfortunately, we have reached an impasse in our discussions with Sound Transit. In August, Sound Transit leadership refused the City’s good faith offer to engage in mediation with an independent third party as a final attempt to avoid litigation between public agencies. Given Sound Transit’s stance, we find ourselves with no recourse but to prepare for legal action. In the midst of unprecedented public health and economic disruption due to the pandemic, and despite diminished City finances, we believe we must resort to this course of action. We are unanimous in this approach because we believe it is in the best interest of our community now and going forward.

    With few tools at our disposal to finance the costs of litigation, we believe the most prudent path is to consider implementing a temporary 36-month utility tax increase, which will cost the average ratepayer about $50 per year. The City will utilize these resources to assert its rights under the Settlement Agreement. A temporary utility tax increase was the same approach we used to fund the 2017 litigation with Sound Transit that led to the Settlement Agreement limiting Sound Transit’s use of North Mercer Way.

    We acknowledge that the timing of this potential litigation is far from ideal and we also understand that light rail service is important to many Islanders, but we strongly and unanimously consider it our duty as your City Council to take the steps necessary to enforce the terms of the Settlement Agreement.

    The City Council will review a draft utility tax ordinance at the September 1 City Council meeting. We welcome your feedback and encourage you to submit comments via this Let’s Talk page or to provide public comment during the City Council meeting. The information on the draft utility tax ordinance will be available on the City’s website by Thursday, August 27. The City Council is tentatively planning to take final action on the utility tax ordinance at the September 15 meeting.

    -Mercer Island City Council

    Mayor Benson Wong
    Deputy Mayor Wendy Weiker
    Councilmember Lisa Anderl
    Councilmember Jake Jacobson
    Councilmember Salim Nice
    Councilmember Craig Reynolds
    Councilmember David Rosenbaum


  • Sound Transit Online Open House: June 8-19, 2020

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    03 Jun 2020
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    On June 1, Sound Transit began mailing a postcard (see image) to all Mercer Island addresses, announcing an online open house, slated for June 8-19.

    The open house covers the design of the Bus/Rail Interchange which will facilitate bus riders transferring to and from light rail when it opens in 2023.

    The City encourages all interested residents to weigh in on the design of a proposed roundabout, as well as plans for the un-built 80th Avenue station entry plaza, and sidewalk and curb cut adjustments along North Mercer Way. Please also share any other concerns you may have with proposed operations.

    The City's engineering and building staff recently reviewed the 60% design and provided comments on the technical aspects of construction, such as materials to be used, necessary excavation, landscaping, and other details of the roundabout.

    Visit the Sound Transit Open House, and don't forget to comment between June 8-19.

  • A Letter to the Community from Your City Council

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    27 May 2020
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    (May 27, 2020) Sound Transit’s Non-Compliant Bus/Rail Interchange 60% Design Does Not Address City Concerns

    Dear Mercer Island Community,

    The East Link light rail station on Mercer Island is nearing completion, yet there still is much work to do to ensure the community’s interests are being met with the final design of the Sound Transit Bus/Rail Interchange that will deliver bus riders to the train.

    The City Council understands that the Bus/Rail Interchange is a topic of great interest to the Mercer Island community. Depending on design, the Bus/Rail Interchange has the potential to adversely impact traffic patterns and public safety on the Island. The time for public comment is nearing, and this will be your opportunity to let Sound Transit know what you think of their design.

    Earlier this spring, Sound Transit submitted their 60% design plans for the roundabout at 77th and North Mercer Way (download here) to the City for technical review. These documents identify the construction methods, materials to be used, necessary excavation, landscaping, and other details for the roundabout, as well as plans for the unbuilt 80th Avenue station entry plaza, and sidewalk and curb cut adjustments along North Mercer Way.

    To meet the City’s governmental obligation as the agency responsible for construction oversight, the City’s engineering and building staff reviewed the 60% design and provided comments solely on the technical aspects of construction, which can be viewed here.

    We also notified Sound Transit that the 60% design for their Bus/Rail Interchange fails to meet the terms of our 2017 Settlement Agreement. The Settlement Agreement between the City and Sound Transit limits how Sound Transit can operate their Bus/Rail Interchange. The 60% design includes curb cuts along the north side of North Mercer Way that are not contemplated under the Settlement Agreement.

    While there are many benefits that the completion of light rail provides to the community and region, the City has several significant unresolved concerns about the high volume of bicycles and pedestrians that are expected to mix with cars and buses adjacent to the busy Park & Ride location once East Link light rail is operational. Last October, we reiterated our concerns to Sound Transit over pedestrian safety, bus layovers, and a proposal to use the north curb frontage of North Mercer Way to drop off bus riders bound for light rail.

    Unfortunately, Sound Transit’s response to our concerns was met this April by a letter repeating their unwillingness to accept the limitations imposed by the Settlement Agreement on their Bus/Rail Interchange. Despite this response, the City remains committed to engaging Sound Transit proactively to urge them to comply with the terms of the Settlement Agreement during design, construction, and operation of their Bus/Rail Interchange. The City has also tried to engage King County Metro in a constructive dialog; to date King County Metro has shown little interest in engaging in this dialog.

    On May 19, 2020, during the City’s presentation on the draft Transportation Improvement Plan (AB5691), City staff proposed for our consideration and adoption a new project that begins to address public safety concerns. We were also provided with a conceptual design for this project. This project and conceptual design are consistent with the Settlement Agreement. The City’s conceptual drawing excludes bus drop-off and layover locations on the north side of North Mercer Way, improves sightlines, widens pedestrian paths and crossings, and enhances lighting.

    Now is the time for all Islanders to engage in this final stage of light rail planning to ensure the best outcome for the Mercer Island community. Sound Transit has communicated plans to hold an online open house, currently expected to occur in June, on the 60% design depicting the roundabout and related features of their Bus/Rail Interchange. Sound Transit needs to hear from our community. The City Council strongly encourages all interested residents to view and comment on these 60% design plans, and to share any other concerns you may have (open house details will be posted on the City’s Let’s Talk page when available).

    -Mercer Island City Council


    Mayor Benson Wong

    Deputy Mayor Wendy Weiker

    Councilmember Lisa Anderl

    Councilmember Jake Jacobson

    Councilmember Salim Nice

    Councilmember Craig Reynolds

    Councilmember David Rosenbaum


  • City Responds to King County Metro's Transit Interchange Requests

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    17 Oct 2019

    On October 16, 2019, the City of Mercer Island sent a response to Sound Transit regarding King County Metro’s bus-rail interchange requirements at the future Mercer Island light rail station.

    In a May 10, 2019 letter to Sound Transit, Metro had requested changes to the configuration already agreed upon by Sound Transit and the City for bus-rail passenger transfers.

    The City’s response notified Sound Transit that under the November 2017 Settlement Agreement between the City and Sound Transit, the City does not approve the changes requested by King County Metro.

    The City remains open to considering other reasonable alternatives to, and additional studies of, King County Metro’s requested changes, and looks forward to future constructive dialogue.

  • Transit Interchange Working Group Initiates Rapid Assessment

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    01 Aug 2019

    At its July 16 meeting, the City Council unanimously approved (5-0) the formation of a working group to rapidly evaluate all feasible bus intercept configurations that would serve the future East Link rail station on Mercer Island.

    The working group, led by Deputy Mayor Salim Nice and Councilmember Benson Wong, convened this week, and includes the Police and Fire Chiefs, and several other senior City staff.

    The group is charged with reviewing in greater detail the 77th Avenue Configuration put forward by Sound Transit, as well as other designs or improvements that could address community concerns over pedestrian volumes and crossings, delays to rush hour drivers, bicycle travel, and general public safety.

    Operating under a tight timeline, the working group hired an independent traffic consultant expert with knowledge of the bus/rail integration history, to review existing engineering and environmental documentation with a fresh set of eyes. The City’s expert will produce a summary report identifying ways to optimize these proposals while mitigating anticipated impacts associated with a transit interchange.

    Continued communication with Sound Transit and WSDOT staff is also underway in order to swiftly confirm transit data and engineering assumptions, and to dismiss technically unworkable alternatives.

    After several more planned meetings, the working group is expected to present its recommended design solutions at the August 20 Council Meeting for full Council consideration.

  • Questions About Transit Interchange Safety

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    16 Jul 2019
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    Do you have questions about how commuter buses will integrate safely with the future light rail service on Mercer Island (opening 2023)? The City Council will be discussing this topic at its July 16 Regular Meeting, but in the meantime we have also crafted a Q&A hitting some of the hot topics the community is discussing right now. The Transit Interchange Safety FAQ (from July 11) can be accessed from our Document Library.

    Park & Ride


  • Planning for the Transit Interchange

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    17 Jun 2019
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    East Link light rail is currently under construction with service set to begin in 2023. One of the remaining issues under discussion regarding light rail on Mercer Island is the integration of the new rail service with existing bus transit at the Mercer Island Station. Sound Transit and King County Metro are seeking to minimize overlap between light rail and bus service along I-90, maximize transit efficiency and reduce air pollution.

    A 2017 Settlement Agreement between the City of Mercer Island and Sound Transit sought to balance the goals of the transit agencies with the City’s desire to protect quality of life for Island residents. The Settlement Agreement outlined the location and design of the Transit Interchange, identifying a roundabout at North Mercer Way and 77th Ave SE as the location for bus loading/unloading and turnaround.

    King County Metro was not a party to the Settlement Agreement, but it was known when the agreement was signed that Metro would need to be involved in planning and implementation of the transit interchange. Thus, after the Settlement Agreement was signed, Sound Transit commissioned the Mercer Island Transit Interchange Operational and Configuration Study (Full Study; Exec Summary) to evaluate how Metro buses will integrate with the light rail station. Since the study was completed, Sound Transit and Metro have been working to further refine plans for the interchange, including the design of the improvements to the right of way, the roundabout, bus queueing and layover areas, and pedestrian, bicycle and vehicle circulation.

    Throughout early 2019, the City Council has also been in discussion with the transit agencies about expected bus operations and the design details of the proposed interchange. The City Council held two Study Sessions (19 March and 30 April, 2019) at which Sound Transit and Metro presented updates on roundabout design and proposed future bus operations. Meeting materials, FAQ, and comments/questions are provided in the articles below.