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.
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).
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:
New Shilshole segment design: