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Trail updates: Ship Canal, MTS trail extensions coming this year

Utility relocation for the final segment of the Ship Canal Trail started in early May. Once completed, construction can begin to extend the trail all the way to Fisherman’s Terminal, allowing people on foot or bicycle a way to bypass the unfriendly and dangerous interchange mess at the south end of the Ballard Bridge.

In my opinion, this is one of the most exciting transportation projects in the city this year. It will connect Interbay, the Elliott Bay Trail and Magnolia to important bicycle transportation routes at the Fremont Bridge, including the Interurban route, the Burke-Gilman Trail and Dexter Ave. Where today only the brave feel comfortable riding through the interchange at the south end of the Ballard Bridge, the trail extension will make the trip more inviting for all bicycle users.

The extension will also bring us far closer to connecting the Burke-Gilman and Elliott Bay Trails. After this project, it will be possible to ride from Redmond to downtown Seattle and only spend about a mile and a half of that on city streets, mostly in bike lanes. When the waterfront construction is finished, riding from Alki to Redmond will be possible with very little on-street riding. That’s pretty cool.The Mountains-to-Sound Trail is also getting an extension this year. Construction starts this month to connect the I-90 trail from its current terminus at the Jose Rizal Bridge around the north edge of Beacon Hill to Beacon Ave S on the west side of the hill. This will dramatically change public accessibility to Jose Rizal Park, which is one of my favorite spots in the whole city. It will also provide a connection to SoDo from the I-90 Trail that does not go through the International District or over the top of Beacon Hill.

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Concept drawing of trail from a 2009 presentation

A second phase of this extension project will weave through the I-90 interchange and connect at 4th Ave S and S Royal Brougham Way (see our previous post for a map of that extension). It’s not clear what the schedule is on this section, but I will update when I learn more.

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11 responses to “Trail updates: Ship Canal, MTS trail extensions coming this year”

  1. Tom

    Great news! I am moving to Wallingford this weekend and will be commuting to Magnolia everyday. This should make that commute a bit easier and more direct than the Burke-Gilman.

  2. Anthony

    Though I’m pleased that this project works for those who ride east to west and vice versa, it does absolutely nothing for those like myself who have to ride over the Bridge and do the lil’ “jog” onto 15th @ Nickerson in order to continue south on15th.

    In my opinion it’s way more important to focus on the Bridge by widening portions of the sidewalk and fixing the mess at the south end of the bridge. What the city has done here is once again take the easy way out instead of dealing with more serious situation.

    1. Yeah, that whole intersection is pretty crazy… I wonder whether it was designed like that in one piece or if it started smaller and grew random appendages. And I wonder if it really performs much better for car traffic than a stop light would.

    2. Tom Fucoloro

      I agree that problem is not addressed here. However, this project solves a completely different problem, which is the lack of a safe route for anyone walking or biking past the Ballard bridge. So I would not say it’s the city taking the easy way out. They fought hard for Nickerson changes that will help people once they get off the bridge heading south. The Ballard Bridge problem is still very much on the to-do list.

  3. rgregerg

    when will phase 2 contract 2 be completed?

    1. Tom Fucoloro

      That is the part finishing in Sept. Contract one is complete.

  4. doug

    I just rode through here on a sunny-day trip to Discovery Park. While crossing 15th on Dravus and speeding down what is essentially a freeway onramp is thilling, I can see why less experienced cyclists would have difficulty negotiating this confusing area.

  5. RachaelL

    The I-90 trail extension looks awesome! I live next to it and regularly climb up to the bridge, but only when going up to Capitol Hill and north. If I’m going downtown or to SODO, I just bike around to Dearborn but a path all the way to 4th Ave S would be great. Going west on Dearborn isn’t bad, but climbing it is kind of awful if there’s traffic or anyone wanting onto I-5 so an alternate route that doesn’t involve going waaaaay south to middle or south Beacon Hill is great.

  6. Greg

    I agree that crossing over 15th on the W Nickerson overpass feels sketchy. So if I’m headed downtown via the Elliot Bay Trail, I’ll (e.g. heading west and south):

    * take phase 1 until it dumps you onto Nickerson around 11th Ave W
    * take a short ride on Nickerson W until you can take a left onto 13th or 14th
    * ride 14th (or 13th) up the hill to W Dravus
    * ride down Dravus to 20th

    that’s not so great, however, if you’re headed to Discovery Park or the like, but might be worth it nonetheless if you really want to avoid the overpass.

  7. Todd Holman

    Looks like completion near the end of 2011 depending on private business needs:


  8. Todd Holman

    I just spoke with LeAnne Nelson and here is a status update:

    Todd: Did the utilities get relocated and did BNSF do their railroad track realignment? In other words, has anything started on this project yet?


    Oh yes, we’ve been actively in construction now for a while, with utility relocation just about done now and BNSF track realignment started – and planned for completion by mid August. We’re still planning on being done by late fall.

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