Sitting in traffic on Seattle’s Mercer Street affords commuters plenty of time to take in the improvements that have been made to the corridor over the years. The road is wider, sidewalks are wider, there are some bike lanes and turning lanes and different traffic signals and prettier landscaping.
The city has spent a reported $74 million trying to make the Mercer Mess less messy, but in the end, according to new data from navigation and mapping company TomTom, commute times have improved by just two seconds.
Various reports this week, including one Monday by KOMO News, lamented the fact that the average time through the Mercer corridor has failed to improve despite all the work. Before construction, the peak morning commute time was 7 minutes, 50 seconds, KOMO says. That travel time has improved to 7 minutes and 48 seconds.
KOMO also reports that Kirkland, Wash.-based travel analytics company INRIX said the travel times are even worse, figuring that 45 seconds have been added to the commutes of Mercer drivers.
Certainly it’s easy to understand that with the rise of Amazon’s South Lake Union campus, and the massive growth of the retail giant’s workforce in Seattle, more cars and people have been added to an already troublesome part of the city.
Once “Bertha” completes her run under the city, things could possibly ease with additional east-west corridors crossing the city. (After all, some key streets will no longer dead-end in into state route 99).
Even so, it’s difficult to imagine how it’s going to get any easier for anyone hoping to go east or west between Interstate-5 and the Queen Anne neighborhood, especially since Google will be moving its Seattle offices right into the thick of the Mess.
Plans for the Google’s development, right in the heart of Amazonia, include a pair of six-story office buildings with a combined 313,500 square feet of office space. Above one of the office buildings will be eight stories of apartments with 79 units.
Two seconds of extra commute time could feel like a lifetime three years from now.