As anticipated, opponents of the plan to complete the Burke-Gilman Missing Link through Ballard have appealed the city’s recent Determination of Non-Significance (DNS). This appeal will further delay the project.
The appeal was anticipated, and this group of big Ballard tenants like Ballard Oil and Salmon Bay Sand & Gravel have vowed to use any legal maneuvers they can to stop or delay the project. Meanwhile, both the city and the group are racking up shiploads of legal costs.
The group has appealed to the Hearing Examiner challenging the city’s determination that a bike trail along Shilshole Ave will not have an adverse impact on the environment. If the Hearing Examiner gives the trail a pass, the project will go back to Judge Jim Rogers of King County Superior Court, whose decision last year forced the city to complete the study. If Judge Rogers gives it a pass, the group could appeal to Washington Appellate Court.
Without these appeals, trail construction could have started this year. If the group continues appealing as far as they can, construction will probably not start until 2012.
The group’s attorney claims the appeals are about safety, according to Seattle Times:
“This is about safety,” said Josh Brower, an attorney representing the trade group. “My clients … are asking the city to study this issue and prove this trail design and location are safe, not just continue saying the trail is safe.”
However, this section of Shilshole Ave is currently one of the most dangerous spots for cyclists in Seattle. Data from BikeWise shows a concentration of bicycle wrecks along the Missing Link route, particularly under the Ballard Bridge. Just last week, my friend, an experienced rider, caught the tracks and went flying, banging up his elbows and destroying his front brakes.
The trail, which stretches all the way to Redmond by means of the Samammish River Trail, ends abruptly at the Fred Meyer in Ballard. Riders, many of them more casual or new riders, are dumped onto dangerous and confusing industrial streets with train tracks to grab their wheels and rises between street level pavement and the shoulder tall enough to throw a rider to the ground. Meanwhile, large industrial trucks use the road heavily, which adds to the fear and can cause riders to ride on the dangerous shoulders instead of taking the lane.
Claims by opponents that they are concerned about safety are obviously not true. The city’s stack of studies on this trail in the past decade is a mile high at this point. To appeal a DNS on the grounds that you don’t think it has been studied enough doesn’t even make sense. Clearly no amount of studies are going to be enough for the group, and they are just willing to spend tons of money in order to delay the project and waste as much of everyone’s money as they can.
Meanwhile, people are getting hurt, victims of a senseless fight that has gone on many years too long.