11/7-Early 2017 Trail Alert: Burke-Gilman getting much needed repairs east of UW

Map of (some) of the planned trail repairs. See more on the project website.

Map of (some) of the planned trail repairs. See more on the project website.

This will surely come as a huge relief to the many people who battle abrupt tree root heaves on the Burke-Gilman Trail in the U District, U Village and Laurelhurst area: Seattle Parks will start repaving sections of the trail Monday.

The five sections are scheduled for work over the next couple months moving from east to west. Detours will be provided where needed, but give yourself a little extra time just in case.

The work is part of the city’s effort to catch up on a long deferred maintenance backlog in Seattle parks, as promised to voters when they passed the Parks District measure in 2014. In addition to being a vital transportation corridor, the Burke-Gilman Trail is one of the city’s iconic parks. But many sections have not received serious attention since they were first paved decades ago.

More details from Seattle Parks:

Repairs to five sections of the Burke-Gilman Trail that runs through the University District will begin on Monday, Nov. 7. Seattle Parks and Recreation (SPR) awarded the construction contract for repairs to Westwater Construction. Work is scheduled to be completed in early 2017. This project will repair sections of the trail, remove areas of asphalt in disrepair, remove invasive roots that are causing upheaval, and replace those sections with new asphalt. Trail sections were determined by 2015 condition-assessment work done in collaboration with Seattle Department of Transportation.

Cyclists and pedestrians will be detoured around the construction area onto side streets. The contractor will work on one section at a time, from east to west, to reduce the impact to trail users. Please visit www.seattle.gov/parks/about-us/current-projects/burke-gilman-trail-repairs for more information about the detour routes.

SPR will also perform small asphalt repairs on the Burke-Gilman Trail in November between Gas Works Park (Meridian Ave. N) and the I-5 bridge, and may require cyclists to dismount and walk around repair work (no detour route will be required).

The Seattle Park District provides $500,000 in funding for this Burke-Gilman Trail improvement project. Approved by voters in 2014, the Seattle Park District provides more than $47 million a year in long-term funding for Seattle Parks and Recreation including maintenance of parklands and facilities, operation of community centers and recreation programs, and development of new neighborhood parks on previously acquired sites. 2016 is the first full year of implementation and will include funding to tackle the $267 million major maintenance backlog; and will fund the improvement and rehabilitation of community centers; preservation of the urban forest; major maintenance at the Aquarium and Zoo; day-to-day maintenance of parks and facilities; more recreation opportunities for people from underserved communities, programs for young people, people with disabilities, and older adults; development of new parks; and acquisition of new park land.

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18 Responses to 11/7-Early 2017 Trail Alert: Burke-Gilman getting much needed repairs east of UW

  1. Davepar says:

    Hallelujah. I was just thinking this morning that I need to get out there with a can of spray paint to mark the bigger holes/heaves. They were hiding under a layer of leaves in the dark and fog this morning.

  2. 47hasbegun says:

    Hopefully they’ll put more substantial pavement in, otherwise this’ll end up needing to be repaved again in only a few years, just like what happened to the section in Fremont west of the bridge.

    • Curi says:

      Agreed. Their effort to grind and patch sections near UW has done virtually nothing to improve matters. A total waste of time & money in my view. It needs a wholesale repaving.

  3. Ttraveller says:

    From the website, it looks like they are planning on detouring everyone down 25th Ave all the way from Blakeley to Montlake. Will they put in a protected bike lane or something? This seems a bit crazy, to detour a multi-use trail onto a busy arterial.

    • Skylar says:

      Yep, apparently 25th is just a “side street”. But maybe we can use this as an impetus for SDOT to put in permanent cycling improvements, or at least reduce the speed limit on 25th?

      Detouring cyclists onto 40th Ave NE is hardly any better.

      • Curi says:

        Eh, with the BG trail running parallel to 25th, I really don’t see a need to install any sort of bike lane on 25th. And I live right in that area and ride the BG 5 days a week.

      • Skylar says:


        25th might be the literal definition of “side street”, but it is hardly a “side street” in most people’s definition of the word: a quiet, low-speed, low-traffic, people-sized street. That segment of 25th is five lanes wide, carries close to 12,000 vehicles per day, and is immediately north of WSDOT’s 35mph urban highway monster of Montlake.

        Given that it is 5 lanes wide and “only” carries 12,000 vehicles, would this make it a candidate for a road diet by converting it to three general purpose lanes and putting in bike lanes on each side?

    • Al Dimond says:

      Wow, 25th is indeed not a good detour, past lots of busy driveways. I’d ride down through the UW parking/intramural area instead, unless I was going somewhere in the middle of the work area. The 40th Ave detour is also sort of silly, since Blakeley/39th is right there.

      But one of the pages gives away the game: it says “BURKE GILMAN TRAIL REPAVING 2106”. By 2106 almost all those detours will be nice bike routes (unless the winter of 2106 is rainy, then everything will be delayed).

  4. R says:

    Surely there are best practices to avoid root heave, thin asphalt and big trees will never peacefully coexist. This is just wasted money down the drain unless they trench along the trail edge and install some sort of root barrier.

  5. Stuart Strand says:

    And here I’ve spent the last year rigging my bike for full suspension! :)

    Not looking forward to the current version of acceptable bike detours, but hoping for the best.

  6. Jack Nolan says:

    I hope when they say “repave” it doesn’t mean the little patch jobs they’ve been doing. That probably won’t last through the winter.

  7. asdf2 says:

    It would be nice if, in addition to repaving the trail, if they could install some lighting in some of the darker spots.

    • Curi says:

      Particularly in wooded area between the old folks home and Pend Oreille Rd. That section gets so dark. It ends up being a somewhat sketchy balancing act of using a headlight to illuminate the path ahead and shielding it to not blind oncoming cyclists.

  8. Rob Norheim says:

    Many years ago there was a long-term detour in the section west of 25th Ave NE (segments A/B). Trail traffic was detoured along the sidewalk on the west side of 25th south from Blakeley to NE 49th St, via 49th one block to 24th Ave NE, then onto the trail via the parking lot behind the UW motor pool. UW closed one parking spot and there was an asphalt ramp between the trail and the lot, you can still see the dip in the asphalt on the side of the trail where they connected. Let’s all write to the Parks Dept and to UW and encourage this alternative.

    This is reminiscent of the original WSDOT detour plan under the 99 bridge. Enough commentary got a better detour result.

    • Skylar says:

      I’ve always wondered what that dip was; it looked like it used to be trail access but I couldn’t figure out what it would be access for.

      I’ve already written SDOT, definitely will add SPR to the list.

  9. siclmn says:

    All they ever do is patch the trail. They never properly correct the problem of why the trail needed repaving in the first place. It only lasts for a while. They only do as little as possible.
    This is not Copenhagen. If you look at the newest section of trail that was opened a few years ago and took 10 years of discussions, it is showing tree roots.
    The Kirkland trail with it’s pea gravel is nicer then the BG trail at this moment and the trees are much further away from that trail. If they built our roads with the same standards as the bicycle trail we would be having a public uproar. Why don’t we have high standards for bicycle trails?

  10. Pingback: Parks District detours Burke-Gilman users onto very busy street | Seattle Bike Blog

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