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Mercer Street, Seattle traffic
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South Lake Union referred to as ‘Mad Max’ by council candidate

Just how many liberties do drivers take while cruising through South Lake Union? More than they probably should.

Rantz: City of Seattle practically forces you to break traffic laws

A video shot by David Preston, one of the candidates challenging M. Lorena González for City Council Position 9, details his experience driving in Seattle traffic near Mercer Street.

Preston captures several illegal maneuvers, including drivers traveling in the wrong direction to avoid backups and using left turn lanes to bypass traffic waiting at a light.

This is the same area where the Seattle Department of Transportation has worked to improve traffic flow, especially along Mercer Street. In April, SDOT introduced a new adaptive traffic signal system that was expected to shave minutes off the drive between Seattle Center and I-5.

In 2015, SDOT decided to upgrade the signals with the new Mercer Street alignment.

The basic premise is the green lights will continually adapt to arriving traffic, which means drivers will waste less time sitting at red lights and will move through the corridor more efficiently.

The $13 million project, which is part of the $930 million Move Seattle property tax levy, coordinates the lights using computer software.

In times of light traffic, the system condenses the timing of the light cycle.

However, during peak commute times, traffic along nearby streets still jam up. Drivers coming south from Westlake Avenue, for example, often find themselves in a backup either waiting to turn onto Mercer, or go straight through it. It’s not uncommon to see impatient drivers try and avoid the backups by risking a ticket, or worse.

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