Monday, March 19, 2012

Cruising Northwest Mercer Island

Afternoon on LW North of I-90
Between Leschi/Madrona and Bellevue/NW Mercer Island is one of my favorite places on the lake. It is between the SR-520 and I-90 floating bridges. In the afternoon the sun reflects off the glass in Bellevue’s new modern high-rise buildings and 14,400 ft Mt Rainier. The views also include 10,800 ft Mt Baker to the north and the mountains (highest peak 10,500 ft) in the North Cascades National Park to the east.
The first floating bridge connecting Seattle to Mercer Island was built in 1940. A second bridge, as part of the Interstate highway system (I-90), was completed in 1989 and the old bridge was closed for repairs. The next year during a Thanksgiving storm, while work continued, most of the 1940 bridge sank. That bridge, the southern one, was re-completed in 1993.
I-90 continues to the eastern mainland across the East Channel from Mercer Island via a conventional high-rise bridge. The first bridge there was completed in 1923 and provided the first road off the island. That bridge was torn down after one span of the current bridge was built in 1940. A second span was opened in 1992 as part of the I-90 system.
The west-end 7 miles of Interstate 90 were the last miles to be completed on not only I-90 but on the three coast-to-coast Interstate highways. It took 30 years of community protests and legal battles to go from initial plans to completion. These 7 miles, at $1.6 billion, were the most expensive 7 miles in the entire Interstate highway system. Much of the high cost was due to the floating bridges but the most expensive ½ mile, costing $150 million, is on Mercer Island with its lid over the freeway park.
In the early 1900s there were a total of about 25 ferry landings on all sides of Mercer Island. The northwest side of Mercer Island has four prominent points. All the points were ferry landings. The eastern point in Luther Burbank Park is Calkins Point, the west side of the middle point is Roanoke Landing, the point on the NW corner of MI is Faben Point and the point about 0.7 miles south of I-90 is Proctor Landing.
Mercer Island (MI) is the largest and only residential island in Lake Washington. It is six miles long and averages about one mile wide for 6.4 square miles of land with about fifteen miles of waterfront. It has approximately 22,000 residents. It is the U.S.’s most populated island in a lake. The northwestern area, before the bridges were built and the Island was incorporated as a city, was named “East Seattle.” It still carries that name as a MI neighborhood.
Afternoon on LW South of I-90 Floating Bridges – Looking at MI’s NW Shoreline
Northwest Mercer Island has more, compared to any other LW Map of the Stars® area, mansion sales, listings and new construction greater than $12 million. These mansions are in 3/11/12 and 3/12/12 posts. Notable sports stars that formerly owned waterfront homes in this area include Jim Zorn and Kazuhiro Sasaki. Top executives of Amazon, Costco, Microsoft, Nordstrom and Boeing have waterfront homes in this area and are in the previous NW MI Homes 3/17/12 post.
The western shore of Mercer Island south of the I-90 Bridge has prime viewing for Seattle Seafair’s Blue Angels air shows. The “Boaters Guide to Seafair” 3/10/12 post has more information.
Family Boating West Side MI Looking South
South of the Seafair area, on the Seattle side of LW, are Andrews Bay and Seward Park. From many lake locations the park appears to be an island but it is connected to the mainland by a narrow isthmus. Andrews Bay is north of the isthmus and well protected. It is the only authorized in LW spot for overnight anchoring. It is popular for day anchoring, swimming in 75° fresh water, having boat parties and spending the nights on summer weekends. It reminds me of my sailing days in Southern California and mooring in Catalina’s harbors and bays. The “Andrews Bay – Anchoring and Partying” 2/27/12 post has more information.
From NW MI Viewing Sunset, Seward Park and Andrews Bay.
(This is the fourth chapter [go to next chapter] of our “Lake Washington Cruising” article. The chapters are being posted in reverse order. When all chapters are posted they will be in order in this blog with the first chapter at the top. I will be posting approximately one chapter per week. You can read and print an abbreviated pdf version of the entire article.
Copyright © 2012 by David C. Dykstra

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