Bond proposed to improve Auburn roads

It would bond roughly $59 million to repair 31 miles of aging commuter and freight corridors, and make improvements at key intersections throughout Auburn.

Among the fixes would be B Street Northeast and 37th Street Northwest, West Valley Highway from the northern boundary of the city south to the intersection with West Main Street, and the roads that come down from Lea and West Hills.

All of the work would be done in 10 years, most of it in the first five.

And all for about the cost of a tank or two of gas a year, depending on the value of one's home.

Tuesday night the newly formed Auburn Transportation Benefit District (ATBD) completed its first official act by unanimously agreeing to put the $59 million bond measure on the ballot. Voters will decide April 17 if it is something they want to support with their dollars.

Terry Davis, co-chair of Citizens to Keep Auburn Moving, spoke in favor of the measure.

"We feel that this is the right thing to do to make our streets safer, get our kids to school on the buses, and set the City up for more economic development when we start, hopefully, to come out of this recession," Davis said. "It is the right thing to do in terms of an equitable, everybody-in solution involving the residents and the business community of Auburn."

The measure is the culminating work of the Arterial Streets Task Force, which met twice over the last five years in partnership with the City to figure out how to address the problem of deteriorating roads and streets within the city.

"This is our problem," said Davis, former chairman of the Arterial Streets Task Force. "These are our roads to restore. The key finding from the Arterial Streets Task Force is that there is no more state or federal money. If we want our roads to look good, we need to step up to the plate. There is no other money out there."

Unlike the voter-approved Save our Streets (SOS), which pays for improvements to local streets, the measure affects only the large commuter and freight corridors.

"Auburn residents get all of the major corridors like the freight and commuter corridors and the connector streets like 12th and 17th, all those done, and the majority in the first five years," said Mayor Pete Lewis. "Those that take longer would be those that require the City to dig up utilities. We ask for five more years so as not to stress the utility funds too much."

Davis said the cost on the residential side for the early parts is about a tank of gas, and then it goes up from there at the peak to a couple of tanks of gas per year.

"That's going to depend on the value of the house. We are talking about 31 miles of the roads that were not dealt with during the first SOS, the roads that get us to the SuperMall, to our schools, to and from our neighborhoods and businesses," Davis said. "Some need to be overlaid, some need to be fully restored. Many of these roads came into Auburn through annexation. They were built to King County standards of the '50s and '60s and really can't support the truck traffic, the high volumes those roads experience."

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