The Aurora Corridor case study in the recent report Shifting Suburbs illustrates the challenges and opportunities of suburban arterials.
ULI’s new report, Shifting Suburbs: Reinventing Infrastructure for Compact Development, includes four corridor reinvention case studies. The Aurora Corridor, a three-mile stretch of Highway 99 that runs through the Seattle suburb of Shoreline, is one of them. Since infrastructure improvements began in 2005, road accidents have dropped 60% along the Aurora Corridor, which was previously one of the most accident-prone stretches of road in the country.
New traffic patterns, new landscaped medians, new sidewalks and pedestrian facilities, and improved street lighting are among the infrastructure improvements that are improving safety along the corridor. Shoreline also undertook a comprehensive overhaul of the corridor’s utility infrastructure.
Shoreline is hoping that these infrastructure investments will spur new development. The city is also working to leverage a new regional express bus service, called RapidRide. The buses will run in curbside BAT (business access and transit) lanes, which reduce travel times for bus riders and prevent congestion in front of roadside businesses.
“We invented the BAT term,” said Kirk McKinley, transportation services manager for the city of Shoreline and project manager for the Aurora Corridor project, “because we had so much concern from the business community about walls of buses blocking views of their businesses. We decided to spin it around and call them ‘business access’ lanes, and that’s been very helpful.”
The city of Shoreline thought like a developer when it created the investment plan for the Aurora Corridor. Dan Eernissee, economic development program manager for the city of Shoreline, offered his perspective on the Aurora Corridor project in a ULI Infrastructure Initiative webinar in December. Before joining city government, Eernisee was a real estate developer.
For Eernissee, the area surrounding Highway 99 had “good residents, good single-family neighborhoods, good demographics, but just this really run-down, curbless suburban arterial that so many of us are so familiar with. So what to do with that? Shoreline leaders decided to really embrace that street as its main street. And as a developer I applaud them, because really ugly is good in a developer’s mindset. That means there’s really redevelopment opportunities.” The Aurora Corridor illustrates the potential of suburban arterials.