Arlington’s first Complete Streets project to be a hit for recreation alley

ARLINGTON – Practice and game days at Bill Quake Memorial Park can be a free-for-all for Little League parents jockeying to find parking and access the fields.

The city is going to bat for families with a new grant-funded project that would add sidewalks and improve parking not only for Quake Field, but Evans Park and the nearby Boys and Girls Club within Arlington’s recreation alley.

The well-traveled 59th Avenue NE east of the airport and 188th Street NE has been an eyesore for years, making it a viable corridor for a facelift.

The project would become the city’s first under Arlington’s new Complete Streets program designed to improve everyday life for residents and visitors through better development of streets, walkways and bicycle infrastructure.

The City Council Monday will vote on accepting a $600,000 grant awarded through the state Transportation Improvement Board.

Project funding would include:

• 750 feet of sidewalk along the east side of 59th and along Bill Quake Park and the sports fields, including a planter strip and street trees.

• 600 feet of sidewalk along the south side of 188th alongside two city parks and sports fields, with a planter strip and street trees.

• 450 feet of sidewalk on the east side of 59th next to Evans Park.

• Two mid-block crossings on both streets, along with a proposed future transit stop on 188th.

• Public art and decorative bike racks.

• Parallel parking.

“TIB officials said that Arlington’s project submittal was one of the nicest Complete Streets projects that they have seen,” said Nova Heaton, development services manager in the city’s Community and Economic Development. “It will be a wonderful, much-needed project.”

Heaton said surveying will be done soon, and project design will be completed in-house to keep costs down.

Heaton said the pedestrian and cycling improvements will carry forward frontage enhancements that are part of the new Swire Coca Cola distribution plant being built on 59th south of the Boys and Girls Club.

The Boys and Girls Club is seeking funds through the state Capital Budget for its own section of improvements, but legislators haven’t passed it yet.

Morever, Heaton said, the future road widening projects for Highwa 530 to the south could provide the last link to fill nearly the entire length of 59th with sidewalks.

Construction on the new project would be scheduled for 2020-21.

Complete Streets is designed to address the needs of all users when development and redevelopment of traffic corridors are proposed within the city, including people who drive, family and commuter cyclists, pedestrians, people with accessibility needs, and transit riders, Heaton said.

It also focuses on the aesthetics of local streets.

City Council Member Jan Schuette credited fellow Council Member Debra Nelson, along with Heaton and planning director Marc Hayes, for taking the lead on the new way to look at transportation planning.

“Debra is the one that brought Complete Streets to our city,” Schuette said. “We would not have gotten the grant if they had not done the work that they did here.”

City government is already using Complete Streets in its policies and planning. It has shown up in the median strips and Steelies public art along 67th, and just last month, completion of Arlington Valley Road.

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