Official: New Mercer Street opening Monday won't be any faster

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SEATTLE —

If you think spending $168 million to fix the Mercer Mess will make traffic move faster, you’re wrong.

This weekend, the Mercer Street on- an off-ramps to Interstate 5 will be closed for construction, and reopen at 5 a.m. Monday. 

When the new Mercer Street opens, many drivers will be surprised to find a slower commute. The project has multiple goals, and traffic is just one of them.

Construction crews are putting the final touches on the new eastbound lanes and installing the traffic cameras that will monitor the new two-way Mercer Street that’s scheduled to open early Monday morning.

But that doesn’t mean drivers will be moving any faster.

“Congestion may not be better on Monday morning in terms of Mercer traffic,” project manager Angela Brady said.

She said new construction on Fairview and Valley streets will slow down traffic coming off the freeway and headed west. But she also said traffic headed eastbound toward the freeway should do better.

“Mercer should flow better than it has in the last two years,” she said.

Still, when the project is done next year, vehicle speeds are expected to be about the same as they were when it started.

“Certainly, the project is not only for vehicular traffic,” Brady said. “We’ve made a ton of improvements out here for pedestrians and bicycles, so we’re really focused on sort of a multi-modal approach with the overall project.”