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City signs off on safe Burke-Gilman Missing Link design. Again.

The has determined that updated plans for the future Shilshole stretch of the Burke-Gilman Trail will still not have a significant negative impact on the environment. This brings the long-delayed trail link one step closer to completion.

But don’t get too excited, there are plenty of opportunities for the anti-trail forces like the Ballard Chamber of Commerce and several big Shilshole businesses to delay the project further if they choose to do so.

One big change this time around: The city’s new Traffic Engineer, Dongho Chang, authored a memo (see below) explaining why, in his professional opinion, the trail design is safe and will not have a significant negative environmental impact. That’s yet another experienced engineer who is confident in the quality of the plans.

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I joked previously that SDOT’s new trail plan was to pave the trail using only planning and legal documents from the years of litigation. I should watch what I say, because I’m pretty sure you could line the documents up and get from start to finish and back by now. Legal bills fronted by the city, Cascade Bicycle Club and the appellants keep stacking up, too.

All the while, we head into what will very likely be the biggest biking summer in the city’s history without a safe link in the city’s most popular cycling facility. More people will crash, and we can only hope nobody is injured seriously while this senseless court battle continues to delay the trail’s completion.

To catch you up on the legal molasses the trail is working through, King County Superior Court Judge Rogers found in favor of the city Hearing Examiner’s decision to approve the trail project on 18 of 19 points in February. However, that one point said the city needed to have more detailed design for the Shilshole segment before declaring that the project will not have a significant negative environmental impact. So now the city has done that work.

If the appellants want to keep delaying the project, they can appeal to the Hearing Examiner, then again to Judge Rogers. This legal process would likely push the project out of the planned 2012 construction timeline, meaning it would likely be at least a year before construction can begin (paving and painting work is not typically done during rainy winter months).

From SDOT:

Pursuant to an order from the King County Superior Court, SDOT has further developed the design of a portion of the Burke-Gilman Trail Extension Project, specifically the segment along Shilshole Avenue NW between 17th Avenue NW and NW Vernon Place (the Shilshole Segment).   After review of the entire project and consideration of the further developed design of the Shilshole Segment, SDOT has determined that this proposal still will not have a probable significant adverse impact on the environment. An environmental impact statement (EIS) is therefore not required.

As a result, on April 30, 2012 SDOT reissued the Revised DNS that was originally issued in 2011 for the entire Burke-Gilman Trail Extension Project between 11th Avenue NW and the Hiram M. Chittendon (Ballard) Locks, including the Shilshole Segment.

Memo from Traffic Engineer Dongho Chang:

BGT ReIssue Traffic Engineer Memo

New Shilshole segment design:

BGT Reissue Sh Ils Hole Design

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15 responses to “City signs off on safe Burke-Gilman Missing Link design. Again.”

  1. Kevin

    I’m stoked to see there’s going to be a “traffic barrier”! I grow weary of trucks parking in the bike lane across from the PCC in Fremont. It’ll be nice to know those grumpy ballard businesses won’t be able to “absentmindedly” block the trail .

    1. Anon

      I would recommend never moving to New York City, unless you want your head to explode, on your first day’s ride. I’m not saying it’s right for business to do it, but they’ll do what they have to do.

  2. Doug Bostrom

    …we head into what will very likely be the biggest biking summer in the city’s history without a safe link in the city’s most popular cycling facility. More people will crash…

    That’s the nut, right there. This is about statistics, more particularly how we can make better statistics, better “luck.”

    Regardless of the impossibility of creating a perfectly safe bike corridor through the “missing link” it’s not a purely intuitive guess that safety statistics will look -better- after this work is finally accomplished.

    This synthetic controversy has been an astonishing display of antisocial behavior on the part of business owners involved in pouring sand under the wheels of progress, purely for their own perception of convenience. Meanwhile, a rude and insensitive person (me, for instance) might suggest that if the viability of the businesses opposing the project is so fragile as to be unable to survive the temporal impact of sharing intersections with cyclists it seems likely these concerns are doomed irrespective of the completion of the plan in question.

    1. melinda

      Haha, word. Let the free market take care of it!

      (did I really just say that?)

  3. Leif

    This has been one of the most frustrating things to watch. I’m guessing most businesses in Ballard are either bike-friendly or at least bike-neutral. I wish some of them would band together and stand up for the missing link. If the Ballard Chamber was pressured by its members to stop fighting this they would have a hard time continuing their fight.

    1. How about some Ballard-area riders start petitioning them?

  4. […] the article here: City signs off on safe Burke-Gilman Missing Link … – Seattle Bike Blog This entry was posted in Blog Search and tagged bicycle, city, gregg, head, history, people, […]

  5. 14 driveways in a third of a mile? That is a lot when you’re basically riding on a sidewalk. A third of a mile is 1,760 feet. 14 driveways at 30 feet each is 420 feet. So almost a quarter of the distance is crossing driveways on what’s essentially a sidewalk! Yuck!

    To be fair… First, the rest of the “missing link” and the rest of the BGT doesn’t have such ridiculous driveway density. Second, the area is really wide open without obstructed views, so it’s not as bad as it might be in some other part of the city. Third, this area could really use some decent sidewalks (and surely, as in every other remotely populated area the BGT passes through, it will be widely used as such because, as in these other areas, good walking routes are sort of scarce).

    1. Gary

      Well if you like driveways and bike trails, try Bellevue’s on 108th!


      Got to be the worst of both worlds, as they put a curbstone between the road and the bicycle track. Which means if you choose the road, it’s been narrowed so that there is no where to go. And if you chose the cycle track, you have nowhere to go when a car comes out of a driveway!

      Plus talk about no visibility! All those hedges, and the mailboxes in the trail. yuck.

      1. melinda

        What!? I ride that road on a regular basis, and it never crossed my mind that that was supposed to be a cycle track. It looks like a sidewalk!

        Seriously, I was just on it last week and my exact train of thought was “That’s a nice-looking sidewalk they put in. It’s nice that people have a better place to walk than the shoulder of this road now. Ah, here comes a car behind me…”

      2. Gary

        According to the design docs it’s “multi use”



        Which of course means, “serves no one well.”

        but if you check the signs at the Southern portion, it says “bicycles ^”

  6. BJ Bikes

    Can we get a complete list of all the Ballard businesses that support the current Ballard Chamber? It’s time to post this and do business elsewhere.

    1. RossB

      That’s a really good question. I have no idea how the Ballard Chamber of Commerce works. Does each business get a vote? There are a lot of businesses in Ballard that are probably not members. Could they join and change the direction of the chamber?

      As for as the answer to your question, I can only find this: http://www.ballardchamber.com/officers
      It seems to me like the last two board of directors would be afraid of public pressure.

  7. […] Missing Link destroys Ballard’s bikeability. Once completed, huge new swaths of the neighborhood’s […]

  8. […] other mile of trail in the entire world that has been studied more than the Ballard Missing Link. We have joked that the city could probably pave the entire 1.5 miles using just the paperwork from their […]

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