SEATTLE, Wash. -- The U.S. Department of Transportation announced that the city of Seattle's Mercer West project was awarded $14 million from the Transportation Infrastructure Generating Economic Recovery grant program. With this critical piece of federal stimulus funding, the city can now begin construction on the $98 million project and complete improvements to the Mercer Corridor. Work on Mercer West will begin in early 2013 and be completed by middle of 2015.
"I would like to thank Senator Patty Murray and the entire federal delegation for their tremendous work in securing this funding," said Mayor Mike McGinn. "This project will not only help reconnect neighborhoods, it will also provide needed jobs and support the growth that we have seen in the South Lake Union neighborhood. Senator Murray's leadership in securing funding for this project and for the Mercer East project has been extraordinary."
The Mercer West project will transform a major east-west arterial bottleneck into an integrated system of freight, transit, pedestrian, bicycle and car improvements that connect to the regional transportation system. It is the second critical phase in the Mercer Corridor program and will create a continuous two-way arterial street from Interstate 5 to Elliott Avenue West.
"This TIGER grant has incredible positive impacts for our neighborhoods and the overall economic development of the City. Beyond providing jobs to construct the infrastructure, development of this neighborhood will enhance economic development and creation of jobs in Seattle for decades to come," said Council President Sally J. Clark. "On behalf of the City, I would like to thank President Obama, Transportation Secretary LaHood, Senators Murray and Cantwell, Congressman McDermott, Governor Gregoire, King County Executive Constantine and the Mercer stakeholders in working with the city to move Mercer forward."
As a "shovel-ready" project, Mercer West will provide a significant boost to the regional economy by creating more than 1,000 project related jobs. Its improvements also support the creation of 50,000 new jobs in downtown Seattle and 12,000 jobs in nearby industrial centers. The project is also critical to the economic health of the Pacific Northwest by keeping freight traffic along I-5 and SR 99 moving through downtown Seattle, ensuring that over $80 billion in goods get to market.
"Connecting East and West Mercer is an important element of the Alaskan Way Viaduct Replacement Program and will provide a new level of mobility in Seattle, improving traffic, walking and biking throughout our north downtown neighborhoods," praised Councilmember Tom Rasmussen, chair of the Council's Transportation Committee. "The TIGER grant was a joint effort, bringing the labor, freight, biking, transit and neighborhood communities together toward a common vision."
This $14 million grant is the second TIGER grant awarded to the city of Seattle. In 2009, USDOT awarded the city $30 million to begin work on the Mercer East project. Providing valuable local jobs, that project is currently under construction and is slated to be completed in 2013. These two projects are key components of transportation system improvements that will connect the Alaska Way Viaduct replacement and SR 520 through South Lake Union and nearby neighborhoods.
Partners who supported the successful Mercer West TIGER grant application included the Washington State Department of Transportation, the Port of Seattle, the Puget Sound Regional Council, the Transportation Improvement Board, the Gates Foundation, Vulcan and a large number of community organizations.
Mercer West will widen Mercer Street between Ninth Avenue North and Fifth Avenue North and replace the State Route 99 bridge over Mercer Street, providing three lanes in each direction, wider sidewalks and a bike path. The project will continue the six-lane cross-section of the Mercer East project under SR 99 and replace the winding westbound route now on Broad Street. From Fifth Avenue North to Queen Anne Avenue North, it will modify signals and channelization to convert the Mercer and Roy streets couplet into two-way streets. The project will also reconnect the street grid across Broad Street.
SOURCE: City of Seattle