Mayor McGinn and Councilmember Tom Rasmussen will announce safety improvements to the Burke-Gilman Missing Link in Ballard this afternoon, according to Cascade Bicycle Club. They will be underneath the Ballard Bridge on Shilshole at 2:30 p.m.
For a brief recap: The Missing Link has been planned, designed, approved and funded. However, a group of supposed business interests has sued to stop the trail’s completion at every single opportunity. The trail will be built on city-owned land, and will complete the link from Fred Meyer to the Ballard Locks.
Between dangerous and confusing railroad tracks, poor roadway conditions and fast cars and freight trucks, the Missing Link has been the scene of many crashes and injuries for years. The city budget for 2013-14 will fund an environmental impact statement for the project (which is the latest expensive legal hoop it has been forced to jump through).
UPDATE: The city will make a handful of road tweaks to help deal with some of the most dangerous and uncomfortable parts of the Missing Link while work on the EIS is underway. The biggest of the interim improvements is a painted traffic island and four-way stop at
Shilshole Ballard Ave and 17th Ave NW. Currently, the intersection is dangerous and often difficult to cross on foot or bike (or in a car, for that matter).
The city will also install “advisory bike lanes” on NW 45th St between Fred Meyer and the redesigned intersection at 17th Ave NW. While we don’t yet have the exact details, advisory bike lanes are typically bike lanes that motor vehicles are allowed to drive on. They are rarely used in Seattle, but are common in other places, including England. There is not enough room for two travel lanes and two bike lanes, and people currently choose not to ride in the roadway, instead opting to ride between the dangerous train tracks on the north side of the street.
From the city:
Mayor Mike McGinn, Councilmember Tom Rasmussen and Seattle Department of Transportation (SDOT) officials today announced a series of road safety improvements to streets and intersections in Ballard. They also announced that the City will conduct a full Environmental Impact Statement study for the project to complete the “Missing Link” of the Burke-Gilman Trail in Ballard.
“We are eager to complete the Missing Link, and conducting a full EIS is the best way to break the legal log jam on this project,” said McGinn. “We are also moving ahead on safety improvements on the street that can be implemented quickly to help everyone share the road.”
“For over a decade the City has been working to complete the Burke-Gilman Trail. I am confident that with careful planning both bicyclists and freight and industrial traffic will be able to co-exist successfully in Ballard,” said Rasmussen, chair of the City Council’s Transportation Committee.
“The Burke-Gilman Trail is a busy, multi-use trail that provides an important connection to residents and businesses in Ballard. I’m glad to see that the City is moving ahead with its plans to close the Missing Link and with these other safety improvements,” said Davidya Kasperzyk, Founding Board Member of Friends of the Burke-Gilman Trail.
The first segment of the Burke-Gilman Trail opened from Gas Works Park in Seattle to Kenmore in 1978. Since then, the City of Seattle has worked to extend the trail westward to Ballard and Golden Gardens. Currently, the trail is not constructed between 11th Avenue NW and the Hiram M. Chittenden Locks, creating a gap between segments of the trail. City records show there were 45 bicycle crashes that were responded to on Northwest 45th Street between 11th Avenue and Shilshole Avenue NW in a four year period (2008-2011). That location, part of the “Missing Link,” is the highest bicycle collision location in the city.
In 2003 the City Council adopted a plan to close this “Missing Link” along the Shilshole alignment. Since then, opponents of the project have gone to court to impede its construction. In 2008, the City conducted an environmental review that was limited in scope, focusing on the route adopted by the City Council in 2003. At the time the City believed this approach was the best way to get to a positive end result. However, that approach has led to the project being delayed in court for four years.
Earlier this year the City’s Hearing Examiner reversed, in part, her previous affirmation of the SEPA Determination of Non-Significance for the Missing Link Project, and remanded it to the Seattle Department of Transportation to prepare an EIS, limited in scope to traffic hazards in the segment of the project along Shilshole Avenue Northwest, between 17th Avenue NW and Vernon. SDOT has decided to undertake the preparation of a full EIS for the entire project, which the City believes is the most expeditious path to take in the interest of the project. This process will begin in 2013, but will take several more years to reach its conclusion due to the likelihood of further legal appeals over adequacy of any new EIS. A comprehensive EIS is therefore the best approach to expedite the process, by doing the most extensive environmental review, which will be more difficult to challenge legally.
In the meantime there are a number of improvements that need to be made to address safety concerns for bicyclists and pedestrians, as well as vehicular traffic, in the general area where this trail project is proposed. SDOT has prepared specific recommended improvements that will be constructed in 2013 or 2014. These improvements include:
· Advisory bicycle lanes on NW 45th Street and other safety improvements on that section of roadway
· Installation of striping and signage to create a traffic island and a 4-way stop at Ballard Avenue NW and 17th Avenue NW
· Striping and signage at NW 48th Street and Ballard Avenue NW to improve vehicular line of sight and slow speeds.
· Shoulder maintenance and replacement along degraded sections of the shoulder along Shilshole Avenue NW.
· Installation of a curb ramp to allow bicycles access to the sidewalk to queue for the existing bike lane headed north on 24th Avenue NW at the intersection of Shilshole Avenue NW / 24th Avenue NW and NW Market Street. Current conditions provide very limited queuing space for bicycles.
These improvements are independent from the proposed trail project, and are intended to either enhance public safety or provide routine roadway maintenance. The City will coordinate with, and take input from, bicycle and freight stakeholders in the implementation of these and any additional safety projects.
When the court decision to require an EIS was announced, we wrote that the city should consider an interim safety project to keep people safe while we wait for trail construction. Here was our idea:
Stay tuned as we await the announcement. Details from Cascade:
If you’re in town, please join Mayor Mike McGinn, Councilmember Tom Rasmussen and Seattle Department of Transportation officials this afternoon underneath the Ballard Bridge, where they will announce significant road safety improvements to the “Missing Link” of the Burke-Gilman Trail.
The Missing Link section of the Burke-Gilman Trail refers to the area where the trail ends at Ballard’s Fred Meyer and people are left to find their own route to the Chittenden Locks where the trail picks up again. The Missing Link also includes the most dangerous rail road track crossings in the city, on Shilshole Avenue below the Ballard Bridge, which is the cause of numerous bicycle crashes every year.
It is at this location, underneath the Ballard Bridge at 4500 Shilshole Avenue Northwest, where the Mayor and other city officials will announce new road safety improvements, as well as detail the next steps the City will take on the “Missing Link” of the Burke-Gilman Trail in Ballard.
Join them Thursday, Dec. 27, at 2:30 p.m.
Is the city going to do anything about the disused railroad tracks that turn away from Shilshole on 14th? Cyclists wipe out there, too, and they’re completely inactive. Residents of the enormous new Ava Ballard and Broadstone Koi developments will need to use 14th to access those properties.
I just moved to Ballard and this is my new commute. I had no idea that the railroad tracks DON’T GO ANYWHERE. Is the labor/new surface expense that’s keeping these dangerous and unnecessary tracks in the ground? Why did the city bother putting bike lane paint down when taking the tracks out would solve the problem altogether?
The tracks on Shilshole do go somewhere (not very far, but they are in use). The switch at 14th, and all the tracks on 14th, are abandoned and unusable.
>>> “This process will begin in 2013, but will take several more years to reach its conclusion” <<<
That’s where we come in. It’s time to organize a campaign to pressure the Ballard Chamber of Commerce to change their stance or risk losing members. They are clearly not working in the best interest for most Ballard businesses, and with them out, it will be harder for future appeals.
Yes, Tom! I’ve been following this issue for years but it’s too complicated and I forget why the ridiculous environmental test has to delay things by years and why that hobby train track can’t come out. Obviously Friends of the Burke Gilman and advocacy groups have been trying to get this done, and Mike McGinn is supportive, but it’s still crawling along. What can people do now to help make this happen?
Seems like pressuring the chamber should be pretty easy, considering the changed face of Ballard. Take the directory of members: http://www.myjournalmagazine.com/directories/babd12.pdf
then ID the bike friendly businesses to get them to be liasons to the rest of membership. Help the rest of the membership understand the number of their customers who support alternative transit modes as well as the Missing Link, and, finally, boycott those businesses that don’t push the Chamber to change it’s position.
I’m with you all the way up to the boycott. Hopefully, pressure from members (many of whom may not even realize the Chamber opposes the trail) should do the trick. I don’t know how the Chamber leaders are chosen, but change could maybe come from the inside.
The “hobby train track” was purchased by members of the obstructionist cabal when the real railroad abandoned the tracks. As long as they run a train up & down it sufficiently frequently it remains an active railroad under, I think, federal law, making it impossible for the city to take any measures against it.
For my part, I have been boycotting businesses in Ballard for years, which I admit is pretty easy for me since I live in West Seattle. Don’t scoff — Ballard would make a nice lunch destination for an easy bike ride, and who knows what shopping I would do once I was there.
The obstructionist businesses claim their concerns are about safety. Yet plenty of people ride Shilshole Ave despite the industrial traffic, and it has not proven an avenue of death. What on earth could be wrong with making it safer, then?
So because of the industrial businesses, which you or I can’t really patronize anyways, you would make restaurants, shops and bars your target, even though they have nothing to do with the delays? Maybe that makes sense in West Seattle, but not the rest of the world.
And your story about the railroad purchase doesn’t match any other historical articles I’ve read about it, could you provide an article to back up your claims?
Search for “burlington northern track abandonment ballard “. Plenty of results. I recall there was elation in the cycling community at the prospect of converting the railroad right of way to a trail, then dismay as the obstructionist businesses revealed their true intentions. I was wrong about the federal law angle; the city unwittingly gave Salmon Bay Sand & Gravel and the other businesses a loophole big enough to drive a cement truck through — for 30 years! That was a good faith gesture on the part of the city, which in the intervening 15 years has been repaid with nothing but intransigence and litigation. The latter we — Seattle taxpayers — have paid for.
Do we need a cement plant in an increasingly dense residential part of the city, with truck mobility increasingly degraded as traffic increases (a critical problem when delivering concrete, and if anything ameliorated by cycling instead of driving)? No, I don’t think so. As soon as the residential value of that property exceeds its industrial value we can expect to see the Cement Plant Residences at Salmon Bay go up. The owners have displayed nothing but a hard-headed business approach to maintaining their current operations, and I fully expect them to apply the same cold calculation when a better alternative to industrial use for that land appears.
Is it unfair to penalize all Ballard businesses? Yes, but as a private citizen with no direct use for the intransigent businesses’ products I have no other economic leverage. If there is a coalition of businesses opposing the intransigents I would like to know, and I would patronize them.
If the project is fully funded why does the City have to wait for the 2013-14 budget to fund the EIS? Can’t some of that money be used to fund the EIS now and then backfill it later? Probably an issue of where the pots of money are coming from… but it seems ridiculous how long Ballard has been waiting for get family-friendly bicycle connections.
We’re lucky to have a forward thinking chamber of commerce here on Capitol Hill.
In case you are wondering about ‘advisory bike lanes’…
Thanks to Mike McGinn and Peter Hahn at SDOT for recognizing the need to do SOMETHING to make the roadways safer for us Ballardians and visitors to our fair region.
While I’m sure advisory bike lanes would work on low traffic streets, if anyone has ridden Shilshole, it’s like a 2-lane highway during peak hours. I can only imagine drivers flooring it to negotiate the small drive lane they will have around cyclists, resulting in an increase of accidents, both vehicular and cyclists.
And don’t believe for a second that the smaller driving space will bring less traffic and slower cars, rush hour drivers don’t operate like that. Unfortunately, the only safe and sane solution is to accelerate the trail construction, which doesn’t seem very likely at this point.
The advisory bicycle lanes are planned for NW 45th, not Shilhole.
My first reaction to advisory bike lanes was, “this is nuts.” But I think there is merit to the point about removing the psychological barrier a centerline creates that impels drivers to pass too close. I noticed this today climbing Western in the bike lane. A car crept by me, a bit close for my taste due to scrupulously observing the centerline despite there being no oncoming traffic in sight. The driver passed me slowly, so he or she was trying to do the right thing, but was in thrall to the yellow line.
The real problem is that that stretch of NW45th is so narrow that it’s not even wide enough for two proper traffic lanes alone, much less any bicycle lanes added on.
A reasonable solution is just to redirect bike/ped traffic one block up 11th Ave NW, then west on NW 46th St, which is wider, has NO train tracks, and has hard, ridable shoulders.
Hmmm, sounds almost like a better, safer, route than the the currently proposed Missing Link! Of course, I’m sure that can’t be true — SDOT must have examined that route in the past…
As a cyclist and a railroad enthusiast I feel obligated to comment here. The “hobby train” serves the Salmon Bay Sand & Gravel company, which runs that rather busy concrete plant down off Shilshole. Were the tracks removed raw materials would have to come in by truck, thus adding vehicle traffic and pollution (GVWR of 1 hopper car =220k- 319k GVWR of 1 large dump trailer = ±50K). The plant can’t reasonably be moved as ready-mix plants have to be close to construction sites or the concrete will start to set in the trucks. Say what you like about Seattle’s rampant construction, but we NEED the concrete. Badly. Our roads could hardly be worse if they were made out of logs.
Also our hi-wheeler riding predecessors dealt with a profusion of urban trolley lines and somehow survived. Just keep your wits about you, slow down enough to maneuver, and never cross the tracks at less than a 45 degree angle and you’re not going to get your tires stuck in the flangeways.
As to the missing link plan I’m curious why the city doesn’t just pave NW 54th St from the locks to 24th Ave NW along the tracks (It wouldn’t have to cross them) and use that to fill part of the gap in the Burke. Seems like that should be more sensible and cheaper than spending years tearing up and rebuilding Market St. Does the city not longer own the 54th st right of way?
Well said Dakota. Rail still does deliver cement to SBSG. Rail w/ trail is fine.
Re: ‘not 54th street’ the plan IS to build the trail here.
Tom-you misspoke about stop signs @ 17th & Shilshole-improvements will be @ Ballard Ave and 17th
Yikes. I definitely read that with my heart and not my eyeballs (can you tell I’m on vacation? haha)
Wow, that was the only improvement I was really excited about, and it turns out I imagined it. I think we need to demand more than this. It is not sufficient to say that this is all we can do in the coming years to prevent people from biking into the Missing Link meat grinder.
It’s great that the city keeps pouring money into the endless studies. But the consolation prize is: Well, it’s going to keep being dangerous, potentially for years, so here are a few band aids that don’t address the key dangers.
Who owns the parking space on the east side of Shilshole? If it’s the city, then lets either take out that parking or turn it into parallel parking and put in a temporary bike lane in that space. Or lets make it one-way and put in a temporary bike lane on the street.
Safety is paramount. If it makes it so people have to drive around the block to get where they need to go, then that’s a small price to pay. And if the industry doesn’t like it, well, they made this bed. They can sleep in it.
Hey, improving conditions at Ballard Ave and 17th will help people getting onto the Ballard Bridge that might be even worse for bikes!
Could we hire Rahm Emanuel to come push this thing through?
It really is a matter of political will. More of us need to organize to create the political pressure to force the City to come to some kind of agreement where both the trail advocates AND the businesses are happy. I think there are plenty of us who are outraged about how long this has taken, but are we holding anyone’s feet to the fire?
There’s a little thing called Seattle Process. Relative newcomers to the city may not be aware that any project needs to complete at least a million person-hours of discussion, printed opinions, plans, lawsuits, meetings, and so forth per linear mile before construction can begin.
Those who believe Seattle Process should be eliminated, bypassed, or waived should be careful not to be spotted at e.g. meetings about the proposed NW coal terminal train impacts on the city.
I am quite glad they are finally doing a full EIS. The original plan the city had for the missing link was flawed in so many ways. There is a way for business and bikes to coexist on Shilshole Ave, the plan as it stands is not it. It is not just SBSG that has problems with his. What is wrong with the trail on the other side of the street where it won’t impact large trucks turning into the businesses? What about making Ballard Ave a greenway? I have friends that work on Shilshole Ave, and there big concern was the raised curbs that were called for, making it so semi-trucks hauling boats or cement trucks could not make the turns. I love the trail, but do not support the current plan.
All driveways were retained in the project. And there are more driveways, loading docks and streets on the other side of the street, not to mention a lot less room to work with.
There are no angels in this mess, but the Ballard Appellants have not come to this thing in good faith. Their supposed “alternative” suggestion does not travel through the trail corridor (and, therefore, is not a real alternative). The fact there there has not, in recent memory, been a sit-down with all parties to hash out the finer details of trail design is probably the fault of many.
But the Appellants have, from what I can tell, been completely unwilling to compromise. They don’t want a trail. Period. If their concern is tight turning radii or somesuch, then that could easily be worked out in the design process. But that’s not the way they’ve handled it, and result has been expensive, both in money and blood.
I guess I don’t understand why there is an EIS then? I thought the complete EIS was required precisely because the design was shown to be flawed? I am not sure what you mean by figure it out in the design process…
Because clearly if someone says the design is flawed, then it MUST be flawed, and they clearly can’t be misled or tools of the people trying to stop the project!
Tom, there’s no rule or law that says multi-use trails can only be built in the right-of-way of former rail lines. Just because the Appellants’ alternative route suggestion is not wholly on former rail routes is no reason to dismiss it (or others that have been made) out-of-hand.
One, virtually the entire trail up to this point is built on the old rail right-of-way; let’s not deviate from that just to please a few whiny businesses.
Two, Shilshole is almost flush up against the Ship Canal and all the other streets end there. Any “alternative” route would needlessly go further inland and involve multiple street crossings where the rail corridor has next to none.
Thanks to the better-informed posters. If the train track is being used by Salmon Bay Sand and Gravel then I support finding room for both. Though I’m still curious where the hobby train rumor originated.
Cascade Bicycle Club’s post has a bit more information and it sounds like they’re happy with the news: http://blog.cascade.org/2012/12/mcginn-eager-to-complete-missing-link-city-to-break-legal-log-jam-with-full-eis/
Friends of Burke Gilman Trail haven’t posted anything on yesterday’s announcement by McGinn, though they do link to updates about progress on the Missing Link from 2003 and 2009. Sigh.
So is this good news or bad news? Sounds like Cascade and others who’ve been fighting it for years think it’s good news, that the City is doing all it can to get the trail finished. And seems like I’m not the only Ballard rider and resident who’s frustrated that we’ll have to spend more time and money before the trail is completed.
Besides the train track, what’s mysterious to me is why the Ballard Chamber would oppose an investment that would make better infrastructure in the neighborhood, making it safer for cyclists and industry to coexist and hopefully making it an even more popular destination for cyclists. Why are they increasing the time and expense for a project that will eventually happen? I’d support lobbying the Chamber members rather than a boycott, but it would help to better understand why they’re opposing the project.
The good news is that city is fully funding a study that is above and beyond the mandated study in an effort to prevent a future argument that the study wasn’t enough. It’s expensive, but the city finally realizes this is trench warfare and is going the full mile.
The bad news is that this project should be under construction or finished today, but it will likely now take another couple years due to obstructionists.
This is not a project that should have needed a full environmental impact statement (it’s a damn biking and walking trail built in city-owned property!), but the appellants like wasting money, so here we are.
Hannah, presumably, they’re afraid of losing their companies/jobs due to possible liability claims (for collisions between peds/cyclists and industrial trucks/mixers/tankers). In balancing your company/job versus improving the riding/walking experience along that stretch, it’s to be expected that the company/jobs would win out. The Missing Link along that route has already been successfully delayed for over a decade, so who’s to say it won’t be delayed for another decade or built along a different route?
For those who argue that there won’t be any significant increase in liability risk for the companies along the proposed route, I’ll just note that if that’s really true, it wouldn’t cost very much for Cascade or the City to post an umbrella liability bond covering only claims above current policy limits. I would think that offering to post such a bond would help dispel the perception that Cascade/the City/proponents are out to “get” the Appellants, just as failing to make such an offer undercuts the proponents’ claims that the Appellants’ companies/jobs are not in danger from the proposed trail route.
No knowledgeable proponents have argued that there is no risk. Any route of new trail will create risk for users, and cross driveways-streets.
SBSG and Kvichak moved further east after trail built.
Interesting comments in the Seattle Times article: http://seattletimes.com/html/localnews/2020004095_burkegilman28m.html
More mystery about the train tracks. And sounds like the full environmental impact study includes alternate routes, which seems like a good thing.
Hannah, et al,
The railroad was started in about 1997 when BN ‘abandoned’ the short line tracks. For reasons that remain obscure and mysterious, the owner of Salmon Bay Sand and Gravel, along with co-investors, decided to continue to operate the shortline railroad, which at the time was primarily transhipping frozen seafood products, brought in by ship, then to train (via Western Pioneer, now defunct).
When WP business disappeared, SBSG started shipping cement via rail car (rather than via truck, which they had been doing for decades). This, along with transshipment of some dry food product (loaded into other tanker trucks over near Hale’s Ales) is the main business of the railroad.
Conspiracy theorists believe the sole purpose for a sand and gravel company and other business owners in Ballard to provide life support to the shortline railroad was to make it that much more difficult to build the missing link – imagine if there were NO rail tracks along NW 45th or the south side of Shilshole – a bit more difficult to argue you can’t have a trail, AND parking, AND business access if you don’t have to deal with two separate rail tracks.
It is what it is, and smart folks have demonstrated that it is possible to build the trail, provide business access, make it safe, etc.
The reason for having to do any EIS in the first place was that the trail plan involved an easement on private property (just west of 24th NW). This triggered the ‘checklist’ EIS (shortened version), then in the face of back and forth rulings and challenges, the determination by a city hearing examiner that a fuller EIS of traffic impacts in three very specific areas was required. The city stepped back, said what would be the best thing to do, and determined they would do a full EIS of all elements of the whole route, though this had been signed off on previously.
The good news? The Mayor, City Council, and thousands of us are determined to see this through.
The bad news? More delay, more bad will, $$$ spent needlessly, and no doubt more crashes and conflicts.
Why would these businesses be so opposed to creating a well designed, safety-featured, separated trail? You would have to ask them, and see why they believe that a trail and driveway crossing can’t mix – like they already do in Ballard, FRemont, U District, the world.
Hope this is instructive for some of you advocates.
McGinn should invite all the appellants to either a group bike ride from somewhere between Sand Point, Kenmore, and Bothell to either the start of the Missing Link, the Ballard Locks, or all the way to Golden Gardens, or a fact-finding tour of Seattle’s trails.
I’m not even sure what their agenda would be that wouldn’t involve ignorance. It’s not like we know they’re being backed by people with a direct perceived interest in continued car-centric policies like with the obstruction of East Link. But then, trucking companies don’t want to improve East Marginal or Airport Way either, so that might be sufficient. Do any of the trails you mention, or any of Seattle’s trails, intersect driveways for trucks, in a way comparable to the Missing Link?
It’s always a good indicator of moral superiority to dismiss your opponents as suffering from ignorance… :) I’m sure they will be eager to enlighten themselves with the pearls of wisdom scattered from your fingertips.
Would you rather I accused them of intentional malice? One’s patronizing, the other’s insulting, yet when you think about it every difference of opinion, no matter how congenial, comes down to one or the other (or both) on the part of one or both parties. My point was that I couldn’t even come up with a convincing explanation for the latter that made sense without the former. (You could argue for principles, but at this point this would just be blind stubbornness for the sake of not having to admit being wrong and/or losing, and it’s gotten to a ridiculous enough point that I’m pretty much ready to rule that out.)
Between Ballard and Fremont, at Kvichak Marine (which moved to that location AFTER the trail was built, so were fully aware of the to and fro of travel there) , and at the asphalt plant just west of Sound Mind and Body, there are driveways of industrial businesses crossing the trail. Right at Gasworks the Fisheries Supply business has infrequent truck across the trail access issues.
The businesses have been and remain concerned about safety – this is their argument against the trail aligned along the public right of way.
Should they be concerned? My answer is that safety issues are addressed adequately in the trail design – from the perspective of users of the public right of way that constitute the missing link, building the interim and permanent sections of trail will significantly improve the safety of those traveling this public right of way. They disagree. The city council and last three mayors agree with me/us.
Regarding safety, if they’re wrong, no skin off your back (perhaps literally :) ). If you’re wrong, they lose their business or jobs.
As I wrote above, if you’re really right, it would cost very little to post a liability bond and get some skin (and credibility) in the game.
Find out the amount, let us knows if it’s possible, and I’ll see if we can come up w/ the dough. I agree this would be a good solution.
No, it’s a terrible solution. Every other business in the city that would like cost-free higher liability coverage will discover bicycle safety concerns.
“… lose their business or jobs.” Oh come on. Give us an example of an industrial business that has folded after an accident involving one of its vehicles. A driver, if at fault, may lose his job and rightly so, but a company driven out of business? Doesn’t happen.
Or maybe this is just another example of our over-litigious and risk-free society. The lesson is, when in doubt, the lawyers are always at fault. :)
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I’d like a nice, safe trail connection between the locks and Fremont. But it doesn’t HAVE to be on some old railroad tracks (abandoned or not). If industrial and marine businesses in the Ballard area have concerns with safety of a trail crossing their driveway, I think they should be taken seriously. Some of them believe that the safety issues could lead to the closure of their operations. And that would suit the community of developers just fine, freeing up what was working waterfront for expensive condominiums and software firms (why these have to be on the water anyway is beyond me). I don’t mind moving over a few blocks. I’m tired of having non-cycling interests manipulate our community and set us up as human speed bumps. A few serious injuries and deaths would suit their purposes quite well, given the outrage that would inevitably be generated.
Not everyone who shows up for public meetings and demonstrations in Lycra and cleats speaks for the best interests of the cycling community.