Originally budgeted at $2.7 million, the King County Council approved an additional $2.2 million to complete the project. Construction hit some snags regarding soil condition, utility work and trees, and much of the work had to be redesigned.
This section of trail has been closed since June, and the nasty detour has lead many people to simply stop riding. Though trail improvements are generally popular among people who bike, closing the trail during the most popular months of the year and failing to provide a reasonable detour has clouded the project’s popularity. Many of the hundreds of people who use the stretch as a vital transportation corridor have been left finding other ways to get around, often at an increased financial cost.
The project was originally expected to open by now, but now most of the trail is not expected to be open until late January or early February. If the project does not go further over budget, it will come in at about $2.5 million per mile.
The project is more than a month behind schedule because of challenges in dealing with trees, utilities and bad soil, said Doug Williams, spokesman with the King County Department of Natural Resources and Parks.
Added Kevin Brown, head of the parks department: “As we got into the project, several issues came up. The utilities are different than we anticipated, the soil is softer and not as stable, and it’s so heavily vegetated we had to remove a lot more for the trail width.”
The problems have nearly doubled the cost: It was to be $2.7 million, but $2.2 million more is needed to complete the project. That means the project is costing about $2.5 million a mile. The additional money was approved by the Metropolitan King County Council on Monday.
Williams said there’s no other portion of King County’s regional trail system that is as difficult to work with as this particular stretch because of tight corridors, steep slopes and roots coming through the pavement. He also said crews had to deal with dangerous road crossings.
Surveys show more than 1,300 trips a day are made on this section of the Burke-Gilman on weekdays, and on sunny weekend days the number of trips can jump to more than 2,200.
King County crafted a detour route, but Williams said it was hilly and added an extra 2.3 miles to the trip, so many bikers crafted their own detours.