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Mercer street messiest for afternoon drivers

New lane restrictions on Seattle's Mercer Street could make the eastbound commute messier than ever. (KIRO Radio/Kimi Kline)

New lane restrictions on Seattle’s Mercer Street could make eastbound travel worse than ever.

Contractors have reduced eastbound Mercer from four lanes to two lanes, between 4th Avenue North and 9th Avenue North, a configuration that will last until mid-2015.

The Monday morning commute went better than expected.

“Our traffic engineers did perceive there to be lower traffic volume so it’s clear that motorists were avoiding the corridor so we didn’t see the expected congestion,” said Richard Sheridan, spokesman for the Seattle Department of Transportation.

The afternoon commutes will likely be worse.

“Afternoon traffic volumes are typically higher for the eastbound direction than in the morning so we are concerned that we are going to see congestion at some point as motorists try to adjust to the new configuration,” Sheridan commented.

The lane reduction means a significant loss of capacity but Sheridan said Broad Street is now open eastbound and Denny Way is another good eastbound route to I-5. Check out the detour map

Sheridan predicted it is going to take at least a couple of weeks before motorists get used to the new lane reductions and detours.

The $95 million West Phase of the Mercer Corridor project should take 2.5 years to complete.

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