Case Study No. 86
Improved Sidewalk Access - Aurora Avenue Corridor Project
Prepared by Ann McGrane, University of North Carolina Highway Safety Research Center. Information provided by Kirk McKinley, Transportation Services Manager, Shoreline, Washington.
Aurora Avenue was a major north-south arterial in Shoreline, Washington that lacked continuous sidewalks and other pedestrian facilities, such as signals and crosswalks.
Before the improvements, Aurora Avenue lacked continuous curbs and sidewalks, and pedestrian crossings were difficult.
Improving the Aurora Avenue (State Route 99) corridor had been planned since even before the City of Shoreline incorporated in 1995. Aurora Avenue handled about 45,000 vehicles per day and served as a major transit route for the City. The crash statistics along the roadway were among the highest for urban arterial highways in the state of Washington. Over a five year period, there were 42 pedestrian and vehicle incidents on the roadway, and the percentage of the incidents that were fatal or disabling was twice the statewide average. Multiple spots along the corridor were identified as high collision locations or pedestrian collision locations by the Washington State Department of Transportation.
Although there was a lot of pedestrian traffic along Aurora Avenue, pedestrians faced a variety of obstacles because sidewalks existed only in front of newer businesses. There was no continuous curb along the roadway, so cars could enter the roadway from many points. The two-way left-turn lane as well as the lack of pedestrian crossing islands made it difficult for pedestrians to safely cross the wide roadway.
After the improvements, pedestrians can more easily move along and across the roadway because of driveway access improvements, crosswalks, medians and sidewalks.
The City of Shoreline dramatically changed the 3-mile Aurora Avenue corridor. The City improved the corridor in segments, initially making changes to just a 1-mile long portion. Continuous curbs, sidewalks, and better lighting were added to encourage pedestrian use and define driveways. The sidewalks were seven ft wide with a 4 ft wide amenity zone. Two pedestrian bridges were built where the Interurban Trail, a shared-use trail, crossed Aurora Avenue. Additionally, the City worked on strengthening pedestrian connections to Aurora Avenue and the Interurban Trail.
In the roadway, the two-way left-turn lane was replaced by a center median with left turn and U-turn pockets that directed the traffic flow. Pedestrian crossing islands and signals were installed to aid pedestrians crossing the roadway. A business access and transit lane was added to improve transit times and reduce the number of conflicts between vehicles entering or exiting the businesses.
Inviting pedestrian areas encourage people to walk along the corridor.
The Aurora Avenue corridor project is considered a success. Businesses and citizens that had been initially skeptical of the changes were satisfied with the results after the first mile of improvements had been completed. As of July 2012, the final section of the project was completely funded and scheduled to be fully completed in two years.
When before-and-after crash data was compared for the first mile of improvements, officials noted an over 60 percent reduction in collisions for all roadway users. Transit ridership also increased dramatically due to the business access and transit lane; approximately 9,000 people boarded buses per day in Shoreline along Aurora Avenue.
The Federal Highway Administration gave Shoreline a 2008 Award of Excellence for the "Best City Project" for the first completed segment of the Aurora corridor project. The Puget Sound Regional Council also gave the city an award for the project, the VISION 2020 Award, in 2008. As the project moves forward, officials plan to continue focusing on the creation of well-defined pedestrian spaces.
City of Shoreline
17544 Midvale Ave. N
Shoreline, WA 98133-4921
Washington State Department of Transportation. SR-99 - Shoreline Aurora Ave - N Corridor Transit/HOV Lanes. http://www.wsdot.wa.gov/projects/sr99/shoreline_ncthov/