The City of Auburn is set to begin yet another infrastructure upgrade intended to make the city more walkable and pedestrian-friendly. A stretch of North Ross Street between East Magnolia and East Glenn avenues will soon have a wider sidewalk and more pedestrian street lighting.
According to David Dorton, the City of Auburn director of public affairs, the upgrades will tie in to other upgrades and landscaping improvements to the Douglas J. Watson Municipal Complex and Fire Station No. 1 on East Magnolia Avenue.
"The city has been investing in new infrastructure around town to improve pedestrian and vehicular safety for several years," Dorton said. "Pedestrian lighting downtown and within walking distance to campus has been a part of that."
The improvements will come to the west side of Ross Street. The east side of Ross Street saw its sidewalk and lighting upgraded during the construction of the 160 Ross apartment complex. The streetscape upgrades were funded by the developer, Dorton said.
The upgrade will include the construction of a wider sidewalk that will be compliant with the Americans with Disabilities Act, as well as 15 new pedestrian street lights and 16 street trees, according to city documents. Access ramps will be built at the intersection of Glenn Avenue and Ross Street.
Bidding for the project was announced March 24 and will close April 21. Construction is expected to begin in late May and should be completed in about 45 days.
"These landscaping improvements tie in with these overall renovations at that municipal complex and also with the fact that there’s more pedestrian traffic in that area, especially with folks walking from 160 Ross to downtown and to campus," Dorton said. "The Downtown Master Plan, zoning ordinance and Public Works Design and Construction manual also speak to streetscape improvements in the Urban Core and Urban Neighborhood districts."
In early March, the City Council approved the codified form of the city's new Downtown Master Plan, which calls for a more walkable city.
"As development continues in the downtown area and as new residential developments within walking distance to campus come on line, the provision of pedestrian improvements to provide a safe, comfortable walking environment have definitely become a priority," Dorton said.
It's not all about aesthetics, according to Dorton. The streetscape improvements will make the area safer as well.
"In addition to walkability, these streetscape projects can help provide for visibility and security," Dorton said.