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Big Burke-Gilman Trail detours coming soon on UW campus

Rainier Vista BGT_DetourAs work speeds up to get ready for the opening on UW light rail station at Husky Stadium, expect some significant and long-term Burke-Gilman Trail detours start in the area in coming weeks.

The biggest trail changes are part of the Montlake Triangle redesign. With the number of people walking and biking in this section of the trail set to skyrocket the day the light rail station opens (planned for early 2016), the redesign hopes to increase the capacity and safety of what might become the most heavily-used section of trail in the city (if it isn’t already).

Image from UW
Image from UW

The biggest bike route benefits of the new design are a biking and walking bridge over Montlake Boulevard and grade-separation of part of the Burke-Gilman Trail through the area. By routing through-traffic on the trail underneath a new set of paths connecting UW campus to the new station, there should fewer people crossing the path of the trail. Though it’s hard to see in the fancy rendering above, here’s a top-down map of the plan:

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image_mediumBut in order to get the benefits of the changes, we’ll have to endure a tough detour for the next 18 months or so.

Details from UW Transportation Services:

The Montlake Triangle Project (MTP) is breaking ground today. The MTP is a multi-agency effort consisting of three subprojects centered around the intersection of Pacific Street and Montlake Boulevard. The project scope includes lowering NE Pacific Place and constructing a land bridge that will connect the Montlake Triangle and the lower Rainier Vista, creating a seamless experience for people walking and bicycling. People traveling from the south will access the Triangle via a combination of existing crosswalks and a new bridge across Montlake Boulevard constructed by Sound Transit.

In order to accomplish the next phase of work, the Burke Gilman Trail will need to be rerouted. The Burke Gilman Trail detour will skirt around the lower Rainier Vista to get around the construction. The trail is expected to be closed and the detour opened the first week of February 2014. Construction is scheduled to be complete by August 2015 and the trail reopened to users.

Once the Burke Gilman Trail is detoured, work will continue with rerouting NE Pacific Place eastbound vehicular traffic onto the existing bridge currently used by the Trail. Southbound Montlake vehicle traffic going west will continue onto the southern tip of the Triangle and turn right onto NE Pacific Street.

This project is part of the overall campus master plan to transform and activate the area. Project funding agencies are the Washington State Department of Transportation (WSDOT), Sound Transit and the University of Washington. The City of Seattle is also providing project support services and pedestrian improvements along Pacific Street.
The three subprojects consist of the following elements:
• Montlake Pedestrian Bridge–Subproject 1 (SP1) – This project will provide pedestrian and bicycle connections between the future light rail station at Husky Stadium and the Montlake Triangle. Sound Transit is managing design and construction of this $11.4 million project and it is nearly complete.
• Rainier Vista Land Bridge–Subproject 2 (SP2) – This bridge will span Pacific Place and connect the Montlake Triangle to Rainier Vista. The UW is managing design and construction of this $20.8 million project.
• Rainier Vista Land Bridge Site Improvements–Subproject 3 (SP3) – This project will provide landscaping, hard surfacing, lighting, and other site improvements from Stevens Way through the Montlake Triangle. The UW is managing design and construction of this $4.5 million project.
Construction work is scheduled to complete summer 2015. Some additional modifications to the detour routes may be implemented as work progresses.

Cascade Bicycle Club also reports about a smaller trail detour just west of Brooklyn Ave.

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19 responses to “Big Burke-Gilman Trail detours coming soon on UW campus”

  1. Steve Campbell

    So I see how the Burke Gilman Trail is being detoured, but how do I get from the Montlake Bridge to the trail? It looks like the Montlake Triangle is being fenced off in the attached campus map.

    1. Jeff Dubrule

      I think I’ll probably just be taking the street, until this is wrapped up…

      Though, how are you supposed to get from the Montlake bridge to the trail after it’s done? Kinda looks like you either take the new bridge, then across the “land bridge”, then back down to the trail, or you ignore the bridge, cross as you do now, then go past the trail, and left to get back to the trail. Either way is longer than the current setup.

      1. It’ll be longer in distance, but at least we won’t have to wait at Pacific/Montlake.

        We’ll trade that wait for Unstructured Pedestrian Interaction Time on three different parts of the Crazy Hourglass Thing, which I file away as yet more evidence that the American architectural profession generally spends more time in airplanes than on the ground in remotely functional cities.

  2. Jim Laudolff

    Steve, from the first map, looks like you will be asked to cross Montlake at the overpass by Hec Ed, then come back south and go around the fenced area. Is this correct?

    1. Steve Campbell

      Jim, no idea if that’s the plan or if they’re planning to use the sidewalk on the south side of the triangle. As Dan states below there hasn’t been any signage posted near the trail yet. We’ll see.

  3. Dan

    What irks me about this whole thing is that, while I’ve seen news about the detour on blogs that I follow, there hasn’t been a single bit of signage on the trail itself for this major change/inconvenience that is set to begin next week. I have a feeling that come next Monday (or whenever it begins) a whole bunch of people will ride up to a rude awakening on this stretch of the Burke without any advance warning.

    1. Kara

      I commute from Fremont to the U District on the Burke 5 days a week, and I saw signage rerouting the trail a couple of weeks ago… at the part where the Burke meets 40th and 40th and 40th and 40th and 7th (check Google Maps, sorry, I can’t post screen shots but I promise that according to the Maps, most of the intersecting streets are called 40th).

      Anyway, a couple of weeks ago, I noticed a sign saying the bicycle reroute was through Lincoln Ave. I have no idea where that street is located, so I promptly started taking the longer/hillier route up Wallingford Ave. This is the first news I’ve seen about it, so I guess it could be seen either way, as I’ve seen the signs but not the news. I’ve just decided to avoid the Burke altogether, especially after I used to take Brooklyn and suddenly without warning, it became a forced right turn at 43rd.

      1. Dave

        Actually that signage marks the closure of Lincoln Ave for construction, not the trail. It’ll mainly affect bike traffic coming off of the University bridge, which now has to go down to the Burke.

  4. I wonder what they’re doing with the 44, which usually turns around around the triangle. Coming east on Pacific St., if you can’t turn left on Pacific Pl. there’s nowhere to go but the Montlake Bridge.

    1. Jeff Dubrule

      I think, when it’s all done, the 44 will be rerouted to drop you off directly at the light-rail stop.

      1. I don’t think that’s been decided yet. Given the concerns of trolley wire placement, turn restrictions, and various traffic bottlenecks, what should happen is a complicated and contentious question I don’t really want to get into here… if you want to start a crazy argument state an strong opinion on the subject in an open thread on Seattle Transit Blog. My understanding is that there’s no current plan to add bus stops directly adjacent to the train station, but (a) I could be wrong (b) I staunchly hold no opinion on this (c) Obama told me if I liked my bus route I could keep it (d) insert miscellaneous trollish comments here.

        But surely what happens during the construction has been decided, I have no idea what it is, and I’m curious. I can’t even think of a reasonable thing to do. If Pacific Pl. is closed, then all eastbound motor vehicles on Pacific St. past 15th must go over the Montlake Bridge. Can that possibly be the case? I guess we’ll find out soon.

  5. Stuart Strand

    The paths up the sides of Rainier Vista onto which the bike traffic will be diverted are presently surfaced in gravel. Unless they are paved, expect accidents. Also the transitions to Stevens Way are inadequate for the traffic this part of the BGT gets.

    1. Stuart Strand

      I spoke to one of the crew on site this morning and he thought that the plan was to pave the paths I was concerned with. It looks like they’ve thought it out pretty well.

  6. Stuart Strand

    I should also have said that I look forward to riding the trail under the completed Vista overpass in two years. This improvement will markedly increase the value and safety of the BGT, a great asset for our community.

  7. Robert Norheim

    Al: as for during construction, this is from the italicized quote above: “Once the Burke Gilman Trail is detoured, work will continue with rerouting NE Pacific Place eastbound vehicular traffic onto the existing bridge currently used by the Trail.” This is the temporary configuration while they build the new Pacific Place. One of the first things they are going to do is fill in the ‘trench’ in Rainier Vista so they can add enough width to the RR bridge that the trail uses so they can route EB Pacific Place onto it.
    I’ve looked over the construction documents (http://f2.washington.edu/cpo/projects/sound-transit/montlake-triangle) and I’m quite sure they know exactly where they are putting trolley wires and bus stops, because the whole thing has to be designed and specified before putting it out to bid. One that I remember is that the westbound stop across from the hospital will be further east along Pacific than it is currently — closer to the light rail station.

  8. Todd

    Whatever it is, I’ll make the best of it. I endured the reroute in Lake Forest Park for months and months just fine. I didn’t whine then and I’m not going to start now.

  9. […] When completed, a section of the trail will be wider and there will be a new connection to the UW Link Light Rail Station and the Montlake Bridge. […]

  10. […] remember, it’s gonna be pretty awesome when the Montlake Triangle project is complete and the bike/walk bridge from Husky Stadium opens. […]

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