Wayne Curve may be located in Bothell, but with Kenmore just up the road on the shared State Route 522, the two cities are sometimes mentioned in the same sentence when people discuss local happenings.
The cities’ schools are all part of the Northshore district, and when Kenmore was noted in recent years by Seattle and national publications as being an ideal place to live, its close proximity to the University of Washington, Bothell/Cascadia Community College campus was on the best-of list.
So, when Bothell Mayor Mark Lamb recently spoke at the Wayne Curve Project completion event near its location on SR 522 and 96th Avenue Northeast in Bothell, he included Kenmore in the presentation.
“To me, this a great story about people working together. There’s very little that we can accomplish in public life or in government when we work alone,” said Lamb, noting that Bothell partnered with Sound Transit, Washington State Department of Transportation (WSDOT) and the Transportation Improvement Board, the Federal Highway Administration and King County — along with Kenmore and Kirkland — to bring the approximately $22 million project to fruition.
The project, which was completed in December 2011 and received the Urban Vitality Grant through the State Public Works Board, is “designed to ease congestion and promote safety. It’s the first capital investment project finished as part of the downtown redevelopment of Bothell,” said City Manager Bob Stowe.
The construction of a road divider between the four lanes and additional lanes for public transit are important parts of the project, officials say.
Lamb said that when he became a councilmember eight years ago, Wayne Curve was one of the first projects up for discussion. It was six years after Mary Stewart was killed in a head-on accident on the curve and safety was a top priority.
“This is going to be a project that, literally, I think will save lives. This was an extremely dangerous corner,” Lamb said. “Every time I would be driving home from Seattle, it was dark and rainy and I’d always think about it. I was like, ‘All it would take is one person to just veer over that little tiny line and somebody would die.’ There were horrible accidents on this corner, and it’s something that makes a big difference in people’s lives.”
Sen. Rosemary McAuliffe from Bothell said she made a promise to the Friends of Mary Stewart in 1998 that she would work with the city to have a divider installed so other lives would not be lost on Wayne Curve.
“What today represents is historic because together we have made a contribution to the future of our children and families in Bothell and generations to come. We are building a strong community together,” said McAuliffe, noting that a bouquet of flowers sitting near the crosswalk on Wayne Curve was in memory of Stewart.
Added Steve Gorcester of the WSDOT Improvement Board: “This curve has long been a struggle. It’s a capacity restraint, it’s a safety issue and it has been a transit slowdown point. We’ve managed to make a difference on all of those factors with this one project.”
The project is designed to alleviate some traffic pressure stemming from a 10-percent increase to traffic resulting from the recent addition of tolling on the SR 520 bridge, city officials say.
Wayne Curve is part of the original trio of projects that Sound Transit invested in, according to board member Fred Butler, who noted that improvements to SR 522 in Kenmore and on the UW-Bothell campus are the others that took place within the last five years.
Butler mentioned that his old friend Jack Crawford, Kenmore’s first mayor and a Sound Transit board member, was a proponent of SR 522 improvements.
“Jack passed away a few years ago, but his spirit lives on in projects like these. It’s part of his legacy in the Puget Sound region,” Butler said.
Added Char Crawford, Jack’s widow: “I know how thrilled he was about having this whole 522 thing in Kenmore and Bothell. He was really strong on partnerships and he just thought this was so great that the Northshore community was all cooperating on this. He really had his heart in this project.”
• The project also includes enhancements to a historic landmark, the Red Brick Highway, the addition of a notable city gateway marker, ornate fencing and light standards, as well as a metal sculpture, “Current,” which is one of the first installments under the city’s new Percent for the Arts program designed by artists/landscape architects Sue Jensen and Phuong Nguyen.