Third Mile Aurora construction begins, lane closures and noisy night work

Sunday, February 20, 2011

The third mile of Aurora construction will be the most complex, according to Johannson Construction and John Vicente, Capital Projects Manager, Shoreline Public Works.

Mile 3 has been split into two projects for financial reasons, said Kirk McKinley, Shoreline Transportation Services Manager. The City has obtained full funding for the section of Aurora from N 185th to N 192nd. Construction is proceeding immediately in order to use the federal, state, and county grants before their expiration dates. This section is referred to as Mile 3A.

Mile 3B is currently being designed and the City continues to look for money for construction.

As with the first and second miles of Aurora, 90% of the funding comes from outside Shoreline. "It's your money," said McKinley, "in taxes you have paid. But that money could go anywhere, to another state or another county or city. It may as well come back to good use in Shoreline."

He went on to explain that most of the grants are for safety improvements. Before construction, Aurora was one of the most dangerous stretches of highway in the state. Accidents on the first mile have been reduced by 60% since completion of the project in 2007.

The third mile is difficult for two different reasons. Mile 3B, from N 192nd to N 205th is challenging because of the property acquisition, with buildings close to the road on both sides. "There will be a lot of negotiation," said McKinley.

Mile 3A is the most technically challenging. Most of the road is on a hillside, with the hill going up on the east and going down on the west. A retaining wall will have to be built in the Park and Ride before any construction can begin. Current walls, such as the large one at Sky Nursery, will need to be replaced.

"We're building 'green walls'" John Vicente explained at an Echo Lake Neighborhood meeting. Rather than bare gray walls, these will have rough strips and exterior screens that allow carefully chosen native plants to grow up the wall.

In addition, the City has cut a deal with the State and county and now owns the corner of the Park and Ride at 192nd. A garden plaza will be built there with a retention pond and green planting areas which will capture the run-off water from the Park and Ride and filter it through underground storage areas before it is allowed to enter Echo Lake on the other side of Aurora.

Parking spaces will be rearranged so the total number will remain the same after the Rain Garden is finished.

Another challenge for Mile 3A was the discovery that the utility pipes are much deeper than previously thought and apparently are under the center of Aurora rather than to one side or the other. It will be necessary to close lanes for at least two weeks, so the work will be done at night.

"It will be noisy," said McKinley. "We have been talking to all the neighbors, issuing earplugs, and finding out who needs advance warning. The only other alternatives were daytime closures or not doing the work. We will proceed as quickly as we can."

The City is providing a 24-hour hotline for questions and concerns about Aurora construction. 206-801-2485 or email

The City held a special Open House and meeting for Aurora Merchants on January 26 and has met with neighborhood and resident groups.

--Diane Hettrick


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