SEATTLE—A traffic bottleneck you've likely sat in for years, the "Mercer Mess", may finally be going away, thanks to new federal funding.
Today Senator Patty Murray, Governor Christine Gregoire and Seattle Mayor Mike McGinn, standing just a few feet from where bulldozers will hit the pavement, announced the project is getting a $30 million kick-start from federal stimulus funding.
"Thankfully it will help clean up the "Mercer Mess" for all of us who have stood in line on the freeway trying get off here," said Senator Murray.
"This is a place, a neighborhood that has thousands of new jobs being created," said Mayor McGinn. "And they come here to Seattle because it's a special place. This investment will help keep it a special place."
Seattle had plenty of competition for the funding.
Other states applied for $56 billion in projects when only $1.5 billion was available.
The only other project to benefit from the funding in our state is a highway corridor in Spokane.
Two other Seattle projects that were denied funding were the deteriorating South Park Bridge, and the replacement span for the 520 bridge.
The $30 million comes from the Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery Discretionary Grant Program ("TIGER").
Besides turning Mercer Street from a one-way street into a two-way, six-lane corridor complete with trees and wider sidewalks, it's also likely to boost growth around the south Lake Union area around Mercer Street between I-5 and Seattle Center.
The project has been a part of failed ballot measures in the past and was left off the list when the federal government handed over $492 million in stimulus money last year.
The lack of funding for the aging and crumbling South Park Bridge over the Duwamish River is disappointing for the residents of South Park and White Center who use the bridge to get to the Duwamish industrial area and downtown Seattle.
King County Executive Dow Constantine says he's very disappointed, especially since the bridge is said to have a lower safety rating than the Alaskan Way Viaduct.
The 77-year-old bridge is expected to close at the end of June due to safety concerns.