About 200 Shoreline residents, city employees and politicians celebrated the nearly completed second mile of the Aurora Corridor project Saturday, expecting that it will be a safer, more attractive, business and pedestrian friendly area as a result.
Mayor Keith McGlashan cut the ribbon flanked by current and past city leaders and staff to mark the $45 million phase two project that redeveloping the stretch of Aurora form N. 165th St. to N. 185th St.
The purpose of the project was to improve pedestrian and traffic safety, aesthetics and environmental quality, promote economic development and help ease congestion, according to the city.
The improvements included wider sidewalks separated from the road by landscaping, traffic- and pedestrian-level lighting and landscaped center medians with left and U-turn spaces, according to the city.
Only punch list items remain to wrap up the project, McGlashan said. Ground was broken about a year-and-a-half ago on a rainy day, he added. Marshbank Construction served as the general contractor for the project.
The project was inconvenient for businesses in corridor at times but in the end it was worth the wait and not as bad as initially thought, said one business owner.
“I was surprised,” said Evan Voltsis, who owns Spiro’s Pizza and Pasta at 185th St. and Aurora Ave. N. “I thought there would have been more impacts but the community came around and supported the businesses.”
Dale Wright, who has lived in the Echo Lake neighborhood not far away from the Aurora Corridor since 1958, was involved as a community member in the project process. He credited the city’s original City Council for having the foresight to lay the foundation for the improvements seen today.
“The result of this long, arduous process is a new Aurora Corridor from 145th to 185th that meets the community’s criteria,” he said. “It has a uniform design that is attractive. The first mile reduced vehicular accidents by 60 percent. It enhances the flow of traffic, it is more conducive to public transit. It has significantly improved storm water runoff, and already has helped economic development.”
Of the approximately $45 million it took to build this section, about $20 million came from state gas tax money, said Lorena Eng, an administrator with the Washington State Department of Transportation.
A total of 42 percent of the project money came from the state; 34 percent came from the federal government—with help from U.S. Reps. Jay Inslee (who spoke at the ribbon cutting), Jim McDermott and senators Maria Cantwell and Patty Murray; 34 percent came from area utilities, 3 percent came from surface water utilities and 5 percent came from King County.
Only 3 percent of the money came from the city of Shoreline and the city has zero debt from the project, McGlashan noted.
Also in 2013, nearly 7,000 transit riders who use metro buses on Aurora Ave. N. will have the option of Bus Rapid Transit in the corridor.
The Shoreline Community College Jazz Ensemble provided entertainment for the event and Janice Bellotti-Pace catered the event.