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Community, lawmakers talk about new vision for Aurora Avenue

Sen. Reuven Carlyle wants to see millions in investments in State Route 99 in Seattle.

SEATTLE — A neglected portion of Seattle's Aurora Avenue may finally get some attention and investment. 

Community members joined city and state leaders for a walking tour near the Oak Tree Village shopping center on Sunday. Senator Reuven Carlyle (D-Seattle) said he put the event together to generate interest in a $50 million- investment in improvements in the area.  

Sen. Carlyle wants to see money for the improvements in the state’s transportation spending package.

“I’m not going to support a package that doesn’t have some serious investment in [State Route] 99,” he said. 

Those who live in that area are hopeful, but after more than a decade of hearing the talk about change, they're ready for action. 

“There's great potential, I think we've seen a lot of real potential,” Pastor Keith Carpenter said.

Carpenter’s Epic Life Church has been involved in grassroots revitalization efforts. 

Casey Pier attends the church and works with another community coalition called “For North Seattle.”

“There are a lot of good things happening here, but it's just this narrative is so heavy and that's why we're trying to work with the officials,” Pier said. “If they can do the part of getting the financial investment into the area we are very confident we can carry the rest and get that narrative to flip.”

Carlyle’s vision includes more cafes, stores, and lower speeds along the corridor. 

“This could be the Champs-Élysées. This doesn't have to be charging into the 1950s with a massive arterial,” Carlyle said.

Carlyle says a re-imagined Aurora could have fewer lanes, lower speeds, more vegetation, more bikes lanes, and more outdoor amenities and cafes.

“Instead of this being a scar through the city, let's look at it as a community connector,” Carlyle said.

It's a vision those who love this community already hold, but they remain skeptical until the investment comes along with those big dreams.

“If it comes, I think this city will be utterly pleased by what they see rise out of Aurora,” Pier said. “And I think it's time for Aurora to rise.”