Missing Link completion appealed again

Looking towards Fremont and the Fred Meyer along NW 45th St.

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.

About Tom Fucoloro

Founder and Editor of Seattle Bike Blog.
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20 Responses to Missing Link completion appealed again

  1. Cyclist Mike says:

    You got to be kidding me. This is getting ridiculous!

  2. Charlie says:

    This makes me so mad. It’s been going on for so freaking long already. It seems like, as taxpayers, we should be able to sue the North Seattle Industrial Association for frivolous appeals and wasting taxpayer’s money. It’s nonsense.

    • Kelly says:

      I’d be on board with that. This is nonsense and we’re just pissing away money at this point. There are better places for the city to spend it.

  3. rich says:

    I only occasionally ride the missing link, but I’ve never seen these “large industrial trucks”. Maybe it’s the time of day, but the opponents’ rhetoric makes it sound like there’s a continuous stream of trucks coming and going. You’d think I’d have seen one by now. For me the scariest part of the missing link is the road itself.

    • Tom Fucoloro says:

      Yes, it very much depends on the time of day and day of the week. At times, it is constant. Other times, there’s nothing. Luckily, the busiest recreational use of the non-trail does not likely match up with busiest truck times.

  4. eldan says:

    What I don’t understand is why they keep appealing. What do they actually stand to lose from this being fixed?

  5. Mike says:

    Maybe it’s time to take our message directly to these guys…

    Salmon Bay Sand and Gravel:
    (206) 784-1234
    [email protected]

    Ballard Oil:
    (206) 783-0241
    [email protected]

    • dhubbz says:

      Did that a while ago. I got this from Ballard Oil:

      [email protected] to me
      show details Feb 11
      As the city has not designed a safe solution to the alignment and the future of the Maritime industries are at stake I just need someone to take full responsibility. Will that be you?

      I emailed him back asking what specifically about the design made it unsafe and jeopardized the future of maritime industries. Never heard back. Salmon Bay never responded.

  6. daisy says:

    What is the ADA’s take on this issue?

  7. Leif says:

    I think its time to organize a protest. What would a few hundred (or maybe thousand) cyclists completely blocking Shilshore do to their business on a busy day? It would be peaceful and clearly directed at the businesses, not the City.

    I’m not much of a protester usually, but what other option do we as every day citizens have at this point? The City is trying to put this through and these couple businesses are needlessly delaying it.


    • mike archambault says:

      It could be something as simple as organizing a bike ride that circles back and forth through the missing link section where bikes are supposed to ride now (in the path of the auto traffic) completely respecting and abiding by all traffic laws (unlike critical mass but it would probably still get framed as such by opponents unless the name of the ride is specifically called something that implies the legality/status quo of it…like The Burke Gilman or Missing Link Status Quo Ride or something). It would at least demonstrate the point that the current routing is worse than the planned new route for everybody, including the businesses. I do agree it is time to expose the emptiness of their loudest argument.

      • Leif says:

        I like this idea… probably a bit more politically safe than blocking the street. :)

        I wonder if any of these bike/transportation organizations (Cascade, TCC, etc.) would want to put this together. I’m sure we could organize ourselves, but without the backing of these groups we are unlikely to get enough riders to make an impact.

  8. Charlie says:

    I was thinking about this morning… I know I suggested a law suit of the NSIA but haven’t the faintest clue how to get that organized. If someone wants to take that project on, I’ll back ya up.

    However, since the Ballard Chamber of Commerce is supporting this lawsuit, I do think that we could and should influence it to drop out of the suit. Especially since it’s reason for being a part of it is that the city has not done it’s due diligence on the project:
    http://ballardchamber.com/ (at the very bottom of the page).

    What do folks think about that? A list of the Chamber’s members are right there on the site. We send them all letters telling them that we will stop supporting any member of the chamber until and unless the member drops its membership or the chamber drops out of the appeal.
    Then we publicize and ask others to join us.

    Thoughts? hit me on Twitter @CharlesRedell

  9. Lisa says:

    I’m on board with the “ride around on the road like we’re supposed to but in large numbers” sort of protest. I think I’m going to start taking the lane when I ride this route, even though I always feel bad because I’m a slow rider. I’d encourage other riders to do the same, and maybe that will make people want to give us our own path because they’re tired of being slowed down.

    • Jeremy says:

      I usually stick to the side of Shilshole where I can when riding West (cars usually but not always park far back enough), but stay on the road when going East due to the grim shoulder condition. Transitioning to NW Market Street when going West is tricky, due to the steep rise at 24th, and then you have the choice of mixing with the cars on Market Street (and crossing back over to the trail or locks), dodging through the large numbers of pedestrians on the sidewalk near Portage Bay Cafe, or totally off-roading it down along the abandoned* rail tracks and debris field/pond that the map claims is NW 54th Street.

      * Well, I did once see an engine being gingerly escorted along the tracks.

  10. daisy says:

    A mass “fall” in. Everyone shows up, rides down the missing link, choose a hazard to fall on and sue the City. What’s a few hundred more claims going to do to our city budget?

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