Once again, the University of Washington was not selected for a competitive TIGER grant to upgrade the entirety of the Burke-Gilman Trail through their campus.
The university manages the section of the popular regional trail that passes through their campus, and they have plans to fully rebuild and widen the bumpy, deteriorating trail as soon as they can get their hands on the $14 million they need to make it happen. This is the second year in a row their application failed to make it to the top of a growing list of projects. 797 eligible applications were received, but USDOT was only able to award money for 72 of them.
“At the moment, we do not have a clear funding strategy that can deliver the project prior to light rail opening,” UW Director of Transportation Josh Kavanagh told UW’s The Daily. If they had been selected, work could have begun in early 2015. It they wait until the next TIGER cycle (and then win, which is clearly no easy task), construction won’t be complete until well after UW Station opens.
As we reported previously, the Northgate bike/walk bridge also failed to win a TIGER grant.
Upgrading the Burke through campus is needed as soon as possible. When not being detoured due to the Rainier Vista project, the trail carries as many people during rush hour as a lane of a busy freeway (more than 1,000). This means crunched spaces, slow-downs for bike users and uncomfortable conditions for people walking. When light rail trains start arriving at UW Station in 2016, that number is expected to jump up about 50 percent, beyond capacity for many sections of the trail. The trail is an important piece of the region’s mobility that needs to support the growing need for people to bike, walk and access transit.
Unlike with a freeway, however, it’s much easier and cheaper to add capacity to a biking and walking facility. UW plans would separate people walking and biking and create wider crossing zones with better sight lines so people can see each other more easily.
UW’s work on this is one of several reasons the League of American Bicyclists has recognized them as a gold level bike-friendly university. That’s an upgrade from the silver they got in 2012.
Also, did you know U-PASS holders can get $10 off an annual Pronto membership?
UW will celebrate the new recognition with League President Andy Clarke Thursday when they kick off their annual “Ride in the Rain” commute challenge.
Here’s the press release from UW:
League of American Bicyclists President Andy Clarke will visit UW’s Seattle campus on at 7 p.m. Thursday to kick off the annual November “Ride in the Rain” bike commute challenge with a talk on how universities are catalysts for the creation of bicycle-friendly communities. Clarke will present the Gold award to UW Associate Vice President for Facilities Services Charles Kennedy at the event in Architecture Hall Auditorium. Following the talk, SDOT director Scott Kubly, Cascade Bicycle Club executive director Elizabeth Kiker, Pronto! Cycle Share executive director Holly Houser, and UW Faculty member and Green Futures Lab director Nancy Rottle will join Clarke for a panel discussion on current progress and the path forward for bicycling at the UW and around the region. Members of the press and the public are invited to attend this important conversation, and to help kick off Cascade Bicycle Club’s “Ride in the Rain 2014.”
“This is a conversation that is happening at campuses and in communities across the U.S. and the University of Washington is proud to be taking the lead,” UW Transportation Services Director Josh Kavanagh said. UW earned a Silver level recognition from the Bicycle Friendly University Program in 2012.
The “Ride in the Rain” challenge, a UW signature program that was key to claiming the gold award, encourages year-round bicycle commuting by transforming the month of November into an epic bike-stravaganza with events, classes, prizes and friendly competition. Started in 2004 as an event for UW commuters, the challenge has grown to include staff at Seattle Children’s Hospital and is hosted for the first time this year by the Cascade Bicycle Club.
UW’s Gold award recognizes the many campus programs and initiatives dedicated to encouraging cycling — from the more than 1,500 high security bicycle parking spaces (5,700 bicycle parking spaces overall), to a free bicycle valet service offered at Husky home football games. In addition, sustained efforts to improve bicycling conditions on campus have identified challenges and opportunities for the future. Successful collaboration between UW departments has produced a new design to improve and preserve the Burke-Gilman Trail as a critical regional connector, and the UW is currently working to acquire the funding needed to build all 1.7 miles of the new design.
With the recent launch of Pronto! Cycle Share, getting on a bike on campus has never been easier. Members of the university’s U-PASS transportation options program get a $10 discount on annual Pronto membership, which allows them to take an unlimited number of rides between the seven Pronto stations on campus, as well as to stations downtown, in South Lake Union, and on Capitol Hill. Rides are free to members for up to 30 minutes, and clean helmets to borrow are provided at the stations.
“We are proud to assist an ever-increasing number of students, staff, and faculty to get to – and around – campus on bicycles,” UW President Michael K. Young said. “This award is a reflection of the hard work and strong coordination of staff all over campus. We’re proud to have earned Gold and excited about future improvements in the works. The best is yet to come!”