Following the release of the official Burke-Gilman Trail detour between Log Boom Park and the Seattle border, even King County said not to take it. The closure is scheduled to start tomorrow (June 15) and will not be open for six months. The county’s suggestion to take the bus or drive is clearly not acceptable, so this post is an attempt to compile suggestions into a more acceptable bicycle route than the official signed route.
First, to recap the challenges with this detour. Reconstruction of the trail requires that the entire stretch from NE 145th to Log Boom Park be closed entirely. There are limited access points for the trucks, which will have to use the trail to enter and exit the work site, so keeping segments open is not an option.
The only road that runs even remotely parallel to the trail and does not dead end is Bothell Way (Hwy 522). People who are willing to ride on 522 have many options (here’s one from Bike Hugger that looks really fast). But people who are confident to ride on 522 can fend for themselves.
We are more concerned about the lack of an acceptable detour for people who want to ride at a neighborhood pace. So I set out last night with my partner Kelli to find an alternative detour that meets the following criteria:
- Does not involve riding on 522
- Does not involve outrageously steep climbs
- Is as short as possible
- Sticks to roads where it is comfortable to ride at an easy cruising pace
To start, I spent some time looking at the great suggestions posted by readers on our previous post (thanks biliruben, doug, JRF and everyone who posted your thoughts). We then set out to try out a couple ideas. After a couple failed theories and dead ends, I think we have ended up with some modifications to the official detour that will work for more people.
First, here is the detour from King County:
The two biggest problems with this route are Ballinger Way and NE 145th. I do not recommend using these roads. If you are going to ride on these busy roads, you might as well take the bus lane on 522. At least then you’ll have some space.
Here is the route Kelli and I came up with that at least meets our minimum criteria for a detour (recorded with my phone’s GPS):
And here’s the elevation graph if you are headed southbound (ignore the spike, which is just the GPS being funny):
- Heading south from Log Boom Park, follow the detour onto Beach Dr, which takes you to the stoplight at Ballinger Way and 522.
- This next step is silly, but it works and will save some distance and allows you to avoid Ballinger Way: Cross at the crosswalk and ride through the parking lot of the shopping center to the stoplight on the south side (45th Ave NE?).
- Cross at the light and turn right onto Beach Drive, which you take to NE 165th. Get ready for a hill. Unfortunately there is really no way to avoid climbing, and 165th is a wide road that is not too busy.
- Meet the official detour at 37th Ave NE. Follow the signs all the way to NE 145th St. Instead of turning, continue straight on 30th Ave NE.
- Turn left at NE 137th St.
- Veer right onto Erickson Pl once you cross Lake City Way. You will meet up with the official detour again. Note: This step does not work quite as well in the northbound direction at Erickson is one-way. You may want to try taking NE 130th to 30th NE instead.
- Follow the official detour to the trail.
Do you know of ways to make this route safer, faster and/or more fun?
UPDATE: King County and Cascade held a press conference today about the closure. Here is the press release:
King County joined with the Cascade Bicycle Club today to urge bicyclists to exercise caution and avoid short-cuts during an extended closure of the Burke-Gilman Trail while the County makes critical safety improvements to the trail’s oldest and narrowest segment.
“We know this construction project presents a significant, temporary inconvenience, but we believe that the safety improvements we’re making to this section of the Burke-Gilman Trail will benefit trail users for many decades to come,” said Kevin Brown, King County Parks Director. “I think cyclists will be among those that are going to love the final product.”
After a nine-month effort to identify and gain approval for a detour route around the Burke-Gilman Trail construction zone, King County received the permits it needed from the city of Lake Forest Park on Monday and will have detour signs in place prior to the trail’s closure on Wednesday, June 15. The two-mile trail segment from Northeast 145th Street in Lake Forest Park to Logboom Park in Kenmore will close possibly until November.
“The detour route is not optimum,” said Cascade Bicycle Club Executive Director Chuck Ayers. “In fact, the County pursued better alternatives but they were frustrated in their efforts. Regardless of how cyclists venture through the closure, we urge them to ride safely, legally, and courteously to other trail and roadway users. In the not-so-distant future, the Burke-Gilman Trail, the grandmother of our regional trail system, will be something all of us can be proud of.”
“It’s not a perfect detour, but it does balance the considerations of our many stakeholders,” said Brown. “Finding a reasonable detour around the construction zone has been challenging. The trail corridor runs along Lake Washington, with steep hills, a fragmented road and sidewalk system and busy State Route 522 on the upland side.”
The detour is circuitous, hilly and longer by 2.3 miles, but it does provide a safer option for getting around the work zone and is an alternative to riding on State Route 522, which is considered unsafe for bicycles due to heavy car and bus traffic.
“State Route 522 between Bothell and Lake City is a very busy transit corridor for both Metro and Sound Transit,” said Metro Transit General Manager Kevin Desmond. “It has a dedicated transit-only lane that helps keep bus service moving, but that lane is only 10 feet wide in some places and there is no room for buses to safely share that lane with bicyclists.”
Brown said the County worked collaboratively with the City of Lake Forest Park, the City of Seattle, the City of Shoreline, the City of Kenmore, the Cascade Bicycle Club and many other stakeholders for nearly a year to identify a safe, temporary detour route to be used during construction of the trail.
Trail users can download the detour map and find turn-by-turn detour directions on the project website www.kingcounty.gov/burkegilmantrail, where weekly construction updates will be posted during the project.
For the first few days of the closure, King County Parks will also have staff at north and south ends of the detour route during commute times and through the coming weekend to inform users about the closure and the detour.
King County has established a 24-hour hotline – 206-462-6348 – to provide updated information and to answer any questions about the construction project.
Brown said that for many bike riders and commuters, the best option will be to avoid cycling and ride the bus or carpool until construction is complete. He said riding on State Route 522 is not safe and recreational riders should simply avoid the area during construction, perhaps exploring one of King County’s many other regional trails. Three Metro and one Sound Transit bus routes provide service along this corridor every six minutes during commute times; all with triple bike racks. Additional bike lockers have been installed at the Kenmore Park and Ride.
This major trail redevelopment project has been in planning and design for more than five years, and has received significant input from a Citizens Advisory Group with broad representation from trail user groups, and local and state governments.
The redevelopment project will improve trail safety, with a new, 12-foot-wide asphalt surface and soft-surface shoulders, enhanced traffic controls, improved sight distances and better drainage. This portion of the trail currently has cracked and uneven asphalt and standing water that can create dangerous conditions for some trail users.
Contractor J.R. Hayes and Sons, Inc. will do the trail redevelopment work at a cost of $2.69 million. Funding for the project comes from the 2008-2013 Parks Expansion Levy and Real Estate Excise Tax funds.
Brown said it was necessary to close the trail segment during construction due to topography constraints and for public safety, as heavy trucks will have to drive up and down the corridor due to limited trail access. Closing the trail segment also allows construction work to be expedited, thus reducing construction time and minimizing impacts to the community. The contractor has incentives for early completion.
The Burke-Gilman Trail runs more than 18 miles from Shilshole Bay in the City of Seattle to the City of Bothell where it intersects the Sammamish River Trail. The trail is managed by Seattle within the city limits south of Northeast 145th Street and by King County outside Seattle.
Construction information is also available by subscribing to King County Parks’ construction alerts at www.kingcounty.gov/parksalerts or by “Liking” King County Parks on Facebook at www.facebook.com/iheartkcparks.