The Burke-Gilman Trail may be closed for several months next year from the Seattle border to the Kenmore border while the trail is reconstructed. But finding a good detour route has proven difficult, and planners are still working on what that route may look like. Unfortunately, nearby streets are often hilly and windy, and could turn a 2-mile stretch of mostly-flat trail into 5 miles of windy roads.
“The challenge is, how do we deal with the 1,000-2,000 commuters who use the trail” for transportation, said David Hiller, Advocacy Director of Cascade Bicycle Club. One possible option planners are looking at is to run a shuttle with bike racks up and down 522, at least during peak commuting hours. After all, many people who feel comfortable riding on the Burke may not be okay riding on Bothell Way.
“Shuttles are probably the most viable option to keep people moving,” he said. Hiller has been part of discussions about this reconstruction project for seven years. It has been a long, often frustrating process involving court cases and Lake Forest Park city councils of varying levels of bicycle support. “We’re almost there,” he said. But the construction process is going to be difficult for people who have come to rely on the trail for transportation.
“We completely understand people are nervous and concerned about this project,” he said. The detour projects are going to have to be pretty good in order to keep people moving “without having to resort to driving.”
This segment was completed over 30 years ago and is the oldest section of the trail. When it was built, it was ten feet wide. But the soil on many slopes is not stable. Wear and tear has reduced the trail to the point where it is much thinner, which is not compliant with standards for a multi-use trail. It is beyond the point of repair and needs reconstruction, but there seems to be no way to do that without completely closing it.
The proposed detour route should be nailed down soon.