The Lea Hill Corridor, between Harvey Road/M Street NE and 124th Avenue SE, is a critical east-west arterial providing connections to downtown Auburn, the Lea Hill neighborhood, Green River College, and State Route 18. To prepare for anticipated growth, the city of Auburn has initiated a Lea Hill Corridor Study that will help identify potential safety, capacity, and operational improvements along this crucial stretch of the roadway network. COURTESY study board, city of Auburn

The Lea Hill Corridor, between Harvey Road/M Street NE and 124th Avenue SE, is a critical east-west arterial providing connections to downtown Auburn, the Lea Hill neighborhood, Green River College, and State Route 18. To prepare for anticipated growth, the city of Auburn has initiated a Lea Hill Corridor Study that will help identify potential safety, capacity, and operational improvements along this crucial stretch of the roadway network. COURTESY study board, city of Auburn

What to do with the Lea Hill Corridor?

Study continues on road project; residents raise concerns about its safety

Every day along the busy, narrow arterial from M Street Northeast and Harvey Road to 124th Avenue Southeast on Lea Hill, walkers and vehicles come too close to each other for anyone’s comfort.

Making it particularly dangerous, Lea Hill residents say, is the absence of continuous sidewalks on 124th Avenue Southeast, especially on the east side of the street.

The city has been aware of the corridor’s shortcomings for years, and is now in the opening, information-gathering stages of a corridor study that will guide its future planning, and ultimately, work.

“We’ve heard that it’s not a very pleasant place to be a pedestrian, but people still have a need to walk,” said James Webb, a senior traffic engineer for the city of Auburn.

Last Wednesday, July 24, engineering staff came to Rainier Middle School to update the handful of Lea Hill residents who showed up on the progress they’ve made since the first open house on Jan. 16, 2019.

“Since then, we’ve taken all the feedback we got from the community, the comments we received in person and online and have started to really develop different alternatives for the different segments and kind of move forward with some of those concepts to get some feedback from those same people,” Webb said.

Turns out most people who live on Lea Hill worry about non-motorized access, traffic volumes, congestion and safety, but about “connectivity,” not so much.

“It’s not that it’s dangerous, it’s the fact that for a lot of the corridor, there’s no sidewalk, there are no bike facilities. People are still using the corridor despite that, so we need to put those facilities in place to better accommodate them. The theory is that by putting those facilities in, you will get more people who will use it to walk and bike,” Webb said.

After the open house, staff received comments of another kind, sharply criticizing the city for its tardy, day-of publicizing of the event. In response, the city sent out the following notification to people on the list:

“It has come to our attention that several people on our Lea Hill Corridor email distribution list did not receive the original open house notification that was sent via email on July 12. We sincerely apologize for the confusion and any inconvenience that this technical glitch may have caused.

“To make sure that everyone has the opportunity to attend the open house and provide their input in person, we will be hosting another open house in the near future for those of you who were not able to attend the open house on July 25. A firm date for the next open house will be announced shortly via email, social media and mailed flyer. We also have an online survey for anyone that cannot physically make it to the open house where you can review the materials and provide us your input. The online survey will remain open until two weeks after the next open house,” the notification concluded.

Learn more at auburnwa.gov.

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