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Millions later and Mercer Mess is still a nightmare, data shows

The City of Seattle didn't rank as well as some might think in its own traffic program. (KIRO 7)

Two years and $74 million later, and the Mercer Mess is still messy.

According to new data from TomTom, drive times improved by two seconds on the stretch of Mercer Street from I-5 to 5th Avenue West between 6 a.m. and 9 a.m. over the last two years, the Puget Sound Business Journal reports.

Related: HOV project is almost guaranteed to cause months-long chokepoint

The city began its work on the corridor, which is used by approximately 80,000 vehicles every day, in early 2010. Since then, the city has completed numerous projects to try and improve traffic flow. Those improvements, according to the city, include:

• Open Mercer Street to two-way traffic

• Widen Mercer Street between 9th Avenue N. and 5th Avenue N.

• Re-configure Mercer and Roy streets for two-way traffic between 5th Avenue N. and Queen Anne Avenue N.

• Widen sidewalks under SR 99 and improve pedestrian connections along the corridor

• Provide a continuous bikeway from Dexter Avenue N. to Queen Anne Avenue N.

• Reduce conflict between cars, trucks, pedestrians and bicyclists

The Seattle Department of Transportation plans to spend another $1 million to improve the timing of the lights on Mercer. The department says even that probably won’t do much to speed up the commute on the roadway, KIRO Radio reports.

But improving drive times along the corridor that has been a thorn in the city’s side for more than 40 years might not be completely in SDOT’s control. Doug MacDonald, a former secretary for the Washington State Department of Transportation, previously said that I-5 plays a big factor in the Mercer Mess.

The problem, he said, is a lack of communication and vision between the state and city. Even though Mercer Street was widened and traffic re-configured, it still connects to the aging interstate that becomes bogged down on a daily basis.

Both MacDonald and former Seattle Mayor Mike McGinn have said that the best way to cut down on traffic is by expanding — and encouraging people to use — public transportation.

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