Missing Link mega study exhausts the debate + Why the Labor Council still opposes the trail

The compromise route.

Councilmember Mike O’Brien, a longtime trail supporter, and Warren Aakervik, the owner of Ballard Oil and a trail appellant, shook hands during a February press conference.

The smile on Councilmember Mike O’Brien’s face somehow grew even bigger than usual while listening to longtime trail opponents and advocacy staff at Cascade Bicycle Club praise each other for finally hammering out a Ballard Missing Link compromise after decades of arguments, expensive court battles and painful bike crash hospital visits.

“I’m kinda all smiles,” said O’Brien during the February press conference. O’Brien is a longtime trail supporter and the councilmember representing the district containing the missing 1.4 miles of trail near Ballard’s Salmon Bay waterfront.

“When designed properly, [the city] will create a safe facility next to a major truck street,” said Warren Aakervik, the owner of Ballard Oil and one of the longtime trail opponents who sued to delay the project to this point. “Hopefully we can move forward and make something safe.”

In addition to announcing a compromise route that includes parts of the South Shilshole Ave route trail advocates preferred and parts of the industry-preferred Market/Leary Way route, Mayor Ed Murray also announced the creation of a design advisory group much like the group that guided the Westlake Bikeway. This group includes business owners, bicycle advocates and neighborhood representatives who are sitting down together to go detail-by-detail to hash out details to make sure the trail design works as best as it can for everyone.

“Today’s major announcement ends 20 years of lawsuits, studies and counter studies,” Murray said.

So it was somewhat bewildering (though sadly expected) to read a Seattle Times editorial recently saying, “The city has stuck for too long with a route loved by Seattle’s biking lobby but potentially disastrous for its historic maritime sector. It is well past time to compromise and finally build the missing link on the alternative path.”

It’s pretty embarrassing that the Times didn’t even look at the city’s preferred route long enough to notice that it is practically the definition of “compromise.” About a third of the route follows Market Street, skipping the tight section between Shilshole and the Locks where the trail planners and businesses would have the hardest time working out solutions. That section would not have been impossible to solve, but Market is likely much easier to build. Moving the trail over to Market will make it slightly longer and includes a small extra hill to climb, but these changes are workable. And it is the key change that finally got parties together at the table.

This is what compromise looks like.

Summary of feedback on the Draft Environmental Impact Statement.

The Leary/Market route only managed to get support from five percent of people who commented on the Draft Environmental Impact Statement despite the Times Editorial Board and trail opponents pushing it for years and convincing the city to include it in the mega study. Only Ballard Ave and No Build were less popular. 81 percent of respondents preferred one of the Shilshole options, nearly all of which were in favor of the Shilshole South option specifically.

The city took the Leary/Market option off the table after the study found that it failed to adequately address the project’s primary goals. Specifically, it would not fix known hazards on NW 45th Street and Shilshole Ave, which would remain the fastest, most direct and, therefore, popular route. It would be much slower, hillier and still cross as many or more driveways as the Shilshole route. The study also found that it was not consistent with the city’s Comprehensive Plan or even with the brand new Freight Master Plan. If anything it would be worse for freight mobility, the extensive study found.

In other words, people’s gut feelings that the Leary/Market option would be a poor Missing Link solution were supported by the extensive study. At least east of 24th Ave NW, Shilshole is the only real option for building the trail.

Why the MLK County Labor Council still opposes the trail

But gut feelings are also powering the continued resistance to any trail on Shilshole. Though some key major business owners are now on board with the compromise and the extensive environmental study found no reason why the Shilshole alignment would have anything more than minimal impacts to industry, some businesses are still holding out. And the MLK County Labor Council is standing with them.

Perhaps that’s the bigger point, and why the three-and-a-half-year, $2 million environmental study has been a silly exercise all along. The decades-long fight over the Ballard Missing Link of the Burke-Gilman Trail has never been about facts, safety analyses and environmental impacts. It’s about a gut feeling that a walking and biking trail and heavy industrial uses simply cannot exist side-by-side.

“I just don’t believe in peaceful coexistance in this case,” said MLK County Labor Council Executive Secretary Nicole Grant. “I’m looking at it with my own eyes, and I’m saying, ‘This is going to be a disaster.’”

Grant doesn’t mince words when she is advocating for the Council’s position on issues, and our conversation was once of the best I’ve had about the Missing Link in the years I’ve been covering it. In the end, our talk became about how people who want to support each other have to come to grips with the fact that they just are not going to agree about the Missing Link. Most trail supporters — I hope — also want to support union jobs and a working Salmon Bay waterfront, and many union workers also bike and love the Burke-Gilman Trail. CSR Marine, a trail opponent, even hosts the annual Fremont Solstice Parade bike ride body painting party.

“Even if people never really agree, it’s still helpful for cyclists to know where people are coming from,” she said, “that it’s maybe more complex than it typically gets painted.”

Grant said she has worked on building parts of the Burke-Gilman, and the Missing Link construction will certainly provide a lot of good union work.

“I’m a serious supporter of the Burke-Gilman Trail,” she said. “I don’t want to be construed as a trail hater, because I’m not.”

But Grant and the Council oppose the compromise route the city, trail advocates and some major industrial players have agreed to develop. They are standing firm against any option on Shilshole.

“Our argument is super basic: Shilshole is taken,” she said. The street must be reserved “for things that are not recreation and not arterial transportation methods for any kind of transit: Car, bike or bus.”

With Ballard growing in population so quickly in recent years, people who work in industrial Salmon Bay only grow more worried about the very existence of their workplaces. Literally and psychologically, the trail brings residential Ballard that much closer to industrial Ballard. And even though advocacy for a completed trail started long before the recent development boom in Ballard, the same economic forces making it impossible for working people to afford homes in Seattle are putting pressure on industrial lands. The trail plays into worries that industrial businesses will be replaced by high-end condos and offices once the Salmon Bay waterfront land gets valuable enough.

“I like that Seattle’s becoming a big city,” said Grant. “It’s cool that Ballard is such a lively community … but people want there to be these fisheries, and these heavy industrial and maritime uses down there.”

Friction between these uses can get tough “on the edges where they meet,” she said. And the Missing Link is trying to cut into the industrial side of that edge.

“The only way [the trail] will ever really be safe down there is if it stops being a hardcore industrial area,” said Grant. “There are some places that are really dangerous, and it’s hard to say what the solution is. But if the choice is, make a couple blocks of the city safe for every user at the expense of the major fishery in North America …  That is a billion dollar industry that supports tons and tons of people and their livelihoods.”

The trail’s mega study states that the businesses and the jobs there would not be harmed by the trail:

[N]one of the Build Alternatives are expected to displace existing uses or cause changes that would result in the loss of a business. Impacts are not expected to affect business operating costs to the extent that they would be unable to operate.

But despite the enormous amount of study that went into the Environmental Impact Statement, Grant simply doesn’t buy this conclusion.

“The workers and the businesses know what will work for them,” she said.

I challenged Grant on her point about allowing Shilshole to remain dangerous, asking her if labor would be OK with a plant where one of the lines kept injuring workers.

“No, we wouldn’t,” she said.

In many ways, Vision Zero and the modern safe streets movement is modeled on very successful workplace safety efforts that labor unions led and continue to lead. Vision Zero just takes those concepts and applies them to public streets. That is part of what makes this Missing Link fight so tough. Safe streets advocates and labor should be on the same side.

“We support safe streets,” said Grant. “I don’t think we are natural enemies by a long shot.” The Labor Council stood with safe streets advocates during the campaign to pass the Move Seattle Levy in 2015, for example.

But fears that the trail on Shilshole will kill jobs — supported by the mega study or not — still take precedent for the Labor Council.

“All the workers are really busting ass down there trying to make the industries successful,” she said. “It’s a big burden to say, ’Coexist with this trail because we’ve welcomed these families and we’ve welcomed these people to recreate here. So you better not hit them, and you better get the cement to the site before it dries out.’”

In the end, the city just has to make a choice. The only thing nearly everyone agrees about is that the trial needs to be completed somewhere. Only 2 percent of people who commented on the Draft EIS preferred “No Build.”

“I don’t envy the city in this process,” said Grant. Because they need to make a decision, and there is no option that appeases everyone.

So Mayor Murray and SDOT have done just that. They are going with a compromise route that at least got some major business owners on board. And they created a design advisory group to hash out the details step-by-step.

“The DAC is tasked with looking at the preferred alternative block by block, to ensure that the final design of the trail prioritizes the safety of all who use the corridor, and preserves access to water-dependent businesses and adjacent buildings,” wrote Cascade’s Kelsey Mesher in a recent blog post. We must hold the city to their word that they will get the details right so the trail and industry can live side-by-side. Because no matter how many hours of your life you have spent arguing about the Missing Link or healing from wounds you got from crashing there, you should still support the jobs along Salmon Bay.

Barring any wild new developments, union workers are going to finally break ground on this thing in 2018. It should be difficult to successfully sue now that there is an FEIS, though we’ve all heard that one before. Aside from the fine details the design group is tasked with working out, there’s just nothing left for the city to study or debate. We need to finish it and move onto other issues facing our city.

Hopefully the next big thing is an issue where safe streets advocates and labor can work together instead of being at odds.

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56 Responses to Missing Link mega study exhausts the debate + Why the Labor Council still opposes the trail

  1. Dave says:

    I just don’t understand the industry-killing argument. There are many equivalent industries along the current bike trail between 8th ave NW and 3rd Ave NW, including a number of maritime businesses. Lakeside Industries (asphal and gravel) at 3rd ave NW runs heavy trucks over the Burke-Gilman all the time every day. The trail has not killed their business nor do I know of an accident there.

  2. Southeasterner says:

    ““The only way [the trail] will ever really be safe down there is if it stops being a hardcore industrial area,” said Grant.”

    Agree 1,000%

    MLK Labor Council and everyone else fully understands it is not a matter of if but when for the re-zoning of the Ballard waterfront, and everyone will benefit. The industrial site and fishing fleet should move to more economically depressed areas such as Everett or Whidbey Island. This would help to alleviate concerns regarding lost manufacturing jobs from Boeing and what will one day have to be military cutbacks on the island. It will also provide current industrial workers with access to affordable housing. Increasingly current workers are being priced out of their apartments and we are seeing more employed industrial/fishing fleet workers living out of their cars in Interbay. Meanwhile the Ballard waterfront can be developed with parks, trails, commercial, and residential units.

    It’s like an awful breakup where nobody in Seattle wants to see industry leave but we both know it would be the best thing to do and it is long long long overdue. New development could include fees to pay for a Sound Transit Tunnel under the canal and bridge improvements along with other local infrastructure investments.

    The Dutch moved big chunks of the port of Amsterdam a couple years ago to provide thousands of new units of housing and we should do it in Seattle.

    https://www.portofamsterdam.com/en/business/port-amsterdam-land-policy

    It’s the natural development of urban areas.

    • Pedro says:

      I think it’s awesome that there is still maritime industry in Seattle. It would be a damn shame if it was pushed out for more stupid condos.

      I understand the sentiment, no offense intended. But let’s not be too quick to become San Francisco, w/ a waterfront used only by fat seals and fatter tourists.

      Burke Gillman – great compromise (finally) between what the cyclists need to be safe and the maritime industries need to thrive.

      • Southeasterner says:

        Your head is in the sand. The Maritime industry will not thrive/recover from a bike facility, and in reality is slowly dying as their wages are forced higher by continual increases in the cost of living, increased traffic congestion associated to rapid growth without adequate transit, and taxes that are increasing at a rate twice as high as the price of industrial output.

        If you really care about industry and the fishing fleet we would work together to find a spot that makes economical sense in WA state. If we don’t Alaska, BC, or Oregon will and not only will Seattle lose the jobs/industry, our state will.

    • A Real Ballard Resident says:

      You are nuts! I have lived and worked in Ballard for 20 years. This is the largest fishing fleet in US. You need to move back to Bellevue. Have you ever been down the ship canal?? If you don’t like Ballard leave please! The industry in Ballard is very important to OUR community.

      • Ballard Resident says:

        I’ve been here longer than you and he’s got a good point. Especially when a few businesses are so afraid that a trail will ruin their business.

      • Southeasterner says:

        Sorry but you have an impractical view that is driven more by emotion than what would be best for both the industrial employees and a rapidly developing community that has already priced out a majority of them.

        Industry may complain about cyclists but the reality is congestion in Ballard is caused by Audi’s, Subaru’s, and Volkswagen’s. The Ballard Chamber of Commerce represents those car owners as well as industry and is conflicted out of dealing with the real issues…it’s much easier to blame cyclists.

        OUR community is now tech workers, high end restaurants, luxury apartments, and $700,000 town-homes.

      • Ballardian says:

        A Real Ballard Resident, have YOU ever been down the ship canal? It has a trail running down it, on BOTH SIDES. A trail that peacefully coexists with industry along it’s entire length, just like similar trails in south Seattle and around the world. Once the trail is built and nothing happens, what will you have to whine about?

  3. Ballard Resident says:

    Isn’t this mostly about their fear of loosing “free” parking for their employees (who probably don’t live in Ballard) rather than concern for anyone’s safety? Shilshole is a mess and needs to be greatly improved for all citizens no matter whether the trail runs through there or not. There is absolutely no reason for them to whine about this. They’ve been an island within the city for a long, long time and their business practices have had negative impacts on residents for years. If cement dries before getting it to a construction site it won’t be the fault of any trail users.

    Why can’t they be better neighbors? We’re not trying to force them out but with such a harsh position it’s difficult to have any sympathy at all.

    Another thing they don’t get … it’s a mixed use trail that will greatly improve Shilshole for everyone. This not just about bicycles.

    If Leary/Market were closed to any automobiles and industrial traffic then I’d be all for leaving Shilshole as is without putting another dime into the infrastructure on that street. They can then continue to enjoy the mess down there or pay to fix it themselves.

  4. Gary Yngve says:

    This is so frustrating! Makes me want to do laps on Shilshole blasting NoFX’s “Dinosaurs Will Die” on a boombox.

  5. Dee Ann Evans says:

    The 5% are probably the people who live and work on Shilshole!!! Why is 2 blocks away sooo bad for you people. You are messing with the livelihood of a lot of residents, workers and liveaboards. Salmon Bay sand and gravel has been there over 100 years!. How would you like outsiders tell you what should go across your driveway??? We were not asked or invited to any meetings. I ride my bike and I would be fine on Leary. I guess you might feel different if you job was in jeopardy because one bike route is shorter. The boating and marine industry IS BALLARD! Please look at all the FACTS!

    • Peri Hartman says:

      Dee, I think you’re missing the point. If the trail is built in a way that doesn’t serve the needs of trail users, it won’t be used. That means most riders will continue to use the industrial street just as they do now. And continue to get hurt, block traffic, etc. That would be a waste of money and a waste of street space (meaning that the mal placed route would be taking up space that could be used for other purposes).

      Effectively, not doing this route would be similar to “do nothing”, which only 2% of people chose.

      Further, aside from a few of the industries, aren’t you making an assumption about which choice residents and liveabords made?

      • Dee Ann says:

        How do you know Leary would not be a great route? There are 4 lanes and plenty of room to continue the trail. I have spoken to many probably 80% of the liveaboards in our marina and the one next door. We will not even have room to look for traffic when leaving the marina. Where do you live? would you like a bike trail across your driveway??

      • Peri Hartman says:

        Dea, please read the EIS, or it’s summary. I think it will answer your questions regarding the Leary way choice. There were several significant reasons why that choice was unworkable.

        I don’t have a busy bike trail at the end of my driveway, but I do have a somewhat busy street. When using my car, I back into my driveway so I can see the traffic when coming out. I can live with that. Many people do.

        If you think the sight lines for your driveway(s) will be inadequate, please look at the design and get involved with these details before it’s too late. No one benefits from having poor sight lines and I completely support your efforts to ensure they are adequate.

    • Ballard Resident says:

      Thank god there is more to Ballard than Salmon Bay S&G. There have been plenty of meetings open to the public over the years. Not sure how you’ve missed them if you live here and are interested in the community.

      • Dee Ann says:

        I do not work for Salmon Bay Sand and Gravel. I work in the yachting industry and most of our vendors are on Shilshole Ave NW. Have any of you been down the ship canal to see the industry?? It is not all about the bikes.

    • Ballardian says:

      Dee, Salmon Bay Sand and Gravel has a lot in Fremont full of cement trucks and every single one of their trucks cross the Burke Gilman Trail already at least twice a day. And actually SBS&G have been invited to literally hundreds of meetings over the last three decades that this saga has been going on. And the land for the trial is owned by the citizens of Seattle who want the trail built there. The EIS that was just completed found that building the trail will actually improve freight movement. But why do I get the feeling that facts don’t matter to you?

    • Another Ballard Resident says:

      1. Salmon Bay Sand and Gravel is not boating and marine industry
      2. It’s not their driveway – it’s a public road.

    • Dave says:

      Lakeside Asphalt and Gravel at 3rd NW is able to cross the current trail without any problems every day. There are many marine businesses that already co-exist with the trail. Why is Salmon Bay Sand and Gravel any different? Or any of the other marine businesses?

  6. Rick says:

    I have yet to hear a compelling explanation for why a well designed multi-purpose trail along Shilshole would threaten these businesses. There are cars stacked on the south side of the road during working hours. The trail would displace the cars and be separated from the work/staging areas. The current actual work space would not be affected. The trucks entering Shilshole already have to wait for traffic (auto or bicycle) and this will not change. Just because the bicycles will be a few feet closer to the trucks shouldn’t appreciably slow them down. Other driveways at various places on the trail have “yield” or “stop” signs for bikes, so this could be done on Shilshole as well.

    These businesses can probably negotiate with the city for some off-site parking accommodation or partner with each other to share parking or work space. The most successful business owners are often the most creative and adaptive. Plenty of much bigger problems (even in this city) have been solved without litigation and delay.

    I love the fact that Ballard embraces these industries and I can’t see why such businesses would abandon the neighborhood over parking spaces. For me, their resistance over the years looks more like stubbornness than a clear safety concern, as there are vulnerable bikers on Shilshole riding next to their trucks every day!

    • Ballardian says:

      The reason for the obstructionism is stubbornness. I have it on good accord from an officer of Ballard Alliance (formerly Ballard C of C) that the litigants are a bunch of old men that hate the city and the city’s approach from the beginning and will fight the trail, because The City.

      • Dee Ann says:

        How do you know Leary would not be a great route? There are 4 lanes and plenty of room to continue the trail. I have spoken to many probably 80% of the liveaboards in our marina and the one next door. We will not even have room to look for traffic when leaving the marina. Where do you live? would you like a bike trail across your driveway??

      • Ballardian says:

        Dee, I’ve lived in Ballard since the 1970s, and actually I would love a bike trail across my driveway. Of course the Burke Gilman Trail isn’t a bike trail, it is a multi use trail. As many people walk their dogs on the trail as ride bikes on it. You should check it out sometime so you know what you’re rallying against. You can also check out the design plans at the SDOT website (http://www.seattle.gov/transportation/bgt_ballard.htm) to see that in fact, you will be able to check for traffic. If you somehow missed the three decades of public input on this project, there is amazingly going to be even more! You can go to the public community meeting on July 13th at the Ballard Eagleson VFW Post.

      • Dee Ann says:

        I do use the trail all the time, walking and riding and I realize this is the shortest route by about 1 block. This is different then the rest of the trail as there is not the same amount of space and will have a much greater effect on Shilshole Ave NW. I did live in Fremont before living in Ballard. I can not believe how moving the trail is that big of deal to this club. Perhaps you should take a look at the 300 parking spaces, the jobs which bring a lot of revenue to this city and driveways in the marinas, boatyards and the rest of the industrial element which require the waterway to exist. Geeze two blocks away! 1 residential driveway and 4 lanes!

      • Drew says:

        The repetition of the completely false assertion that this trail poses a threat to any job smacks of a disinformation campaign.

        It is disturbing to see folks use this type of strategy and frankly we need to start weeding out people who lost credibility from the discussion. King County Labor Council, you cannot provide a shred of credible evidence that this trail will impact jobs so you have no credibility in this discussion.

        Stop attacking a real project that will improve safety for real people on the basis that the project symbolically represents an invasion of industrial land.

      • Ballardian says:

        Dee, what club are you speaking of? The Citizens of Seattle Club? Because that’s who wants this multi use trail built. On the right of way that they own. If you would like to mitigate any parking lost, you should attend the upcoming meeting an advocate for the trail to continue on 54th rather than on Market to mitigate the loss of parking.
        The EIS found that no jobs will be lost and no businesses will go out of business by building the trail. Why do you keep making that up? This multi use trail will improve freight movement on the Shilshole Ave. NW and not impact the waterway at all. It will improve safety for all users. Why in the world would you be against that?

  7. Fish says:

    I wish this city could have an honest conversation about our Industrial zoned areas and its benefits to the city. I say this as a naive bystander that doesn’t work or live in Ballard, so I can’t say I have a vested interest in whatever happens there. It just seems like every council member and politician has to proclaim their love for the port and the other industries at all times without explaining to the naive layman, like myself, what value it brings to the city by being located right in the heart of it. Why does it need to be located in the most densely populated, traffic infested and expensive part of the region instead of Tacoma, Everett…? Before anyone gets mad at me, I’m not saying the port and all of these areas should be moved. I just wish someone could explain to me why they need to be located in Ballard and right in downtown Seattle. I have no doubt that these industries are important, which is why I am only asking about their physical location. Even if they bring in billions of dollars for the city–does it outweigh the hundreds of thousands of housing units that could be built there instead? Could we save billions of dollars in infrastructure spending by having more people live in the city? Again, I am just ASKING not stating my personal opinion. Could it be more beneficial to these workers to have these jobs located outside of the city closer to more affordable housing or do most of them live downtown? We are the fastest growing major city in the country that won’t get a workable rail network for another 20 years. The industrial zoning of our city is a needed conversation.

    • Law Abider says:

      Two thoughts I have:

      First, you can’t just wave your hand and move ports and industrial areas. Interbay and Ballard waterfront have been industrial for a century. Docks, buildings, infrastructure and most of all, pollution, have been well established. You’re going to be hard pressed to find an area that can just accept industrial infrastructure and associated traffic. It’s going to be impossible to find empty, protected waterfront that will accept a new port, with all the boat traffic and pollution that comes with it.

      Second, the argument of housing versus other land use (in this case industrial) always seems to pop up. But you could ask the same thing about parks. My humble opinion is that the industrial areas and ports are established job creators and tax revenue generators that shouldn’t be messed with (you’d be surprised how many jobs would be affected by removing the industrial areas). It would be more worth our while to upzone the sea of single family homes in and around Interbay and Ballard, which are extremely inefficient in terms of potential land usage. There’s your affordable housing for industrial workers, without displacing jobs; not to mention that any housing built on former Seattle or Ballard port property would not be affordable. And regardless of land use or whether more people live in the City, we would still need those billions of dollars of infrastructure.

      Look at any other, major, thriving city around the world. Their industrial areas and ports are a major factor in their status as major cities. Don’t mess with them. Instead support and grow them.

      • Gary says:

        Ah, the growing city of Seattle needs cement. It doesn’t need a fishing industry. That fact alone along with the rising price of land, and therefore labor is going to push these boats to a cheaper harbor. And guess what, they exsist. Gray’s Harbor and Hoquium would love to have this industry. And yes it will suck for anyone else who supports this industry to move. But housing & land is a lot cheaper.

      • Ballardian says:

        But we don’t have to make any choice in order to finish the Burke Gilman Trail, the industries and the trail can both work alongside each other.

      • Law Abider says:

        “Gray’s Harbor and Hoquium would love to have this industry.”

        I’m sure they would and they do have a small, but thriving fishing industry. However, they lack convenient access to the Inside Passage, which the Puget Sound has and is critical to the fishing trawlers that need to get to Alaska without having to risk the open seas. Also, the locks provide virtually calm waters to dock boats.

        They also lack convenient access to the markets, which Ballard has.

        The Ballard fishing and industrial district is not there because Ballard is a hip place to be, it’s there because it was the best place to locate these industries. And as Ballardian put it, the industries are here to stay and the trail is going to be here to stay. Both can and will live side by side. There’s no reason to push the industries out.

      • Ballard Biker says:

        Actually, the biggest deal is being able to keep the boats in fresh water versus salt water…

  8. Ballard Biker says:

    This trail and it’s orientation is vitally important to rich white people, mostly male, and is a prudent use of $30 million.

    • Ballard Resident says:

      I see plenty of women and children on the BGT between the locks and GG on a daily basis. Many are joggers and walkers.

      Lawsuits are a waste of time and money and now you complain about cost of building the trail.

    • Law Abider says:

      Velma: This so called Ballard Biker is none other than *pulls off helmet and fake mask* Warren Aakervik, the owner of Ballard Oil!

      Warren: Drat! And I would have gotten away with it if it weren’t for you pesky taxpayers and your blasted public right-of-way!

  9. Law Abider says:

    So Seattle is going to shift the lawsuit from one conglomeration (the obstructionists, who had run out of options to sue) to another (businesses on Market between 24th and 32nd). This is going to drag on even longer now while we wait for the results of this next inevitable lawsuit.

    Build the damn trail per the EIS findings and public support, using the status quo route: south side of Shilshole and along 54th St.

    Does anyone know if Seattle choosing Market St vs 54th negates the EIS, to the point where if the next Mayor reverses course and tells SDOT to build along 54th, Seattle would have to redo the EIS process?

    • Ballardian says:

      I’m hoping this route isn’t a done deal and the trail can actually be built where it belongs on the rail right of way on 54th. But I say build it anyway now on Market if that is all that is going to be done now. It can later be also built on 54th if the political will of the city changes and the city doesn’t divest the rail right of way. This is what happened to the original BGT build on Northlake west of Latona before it was relocated to the current routing on the former rail lines.

    • Damon says:

      This article was the first time I’d seen the image laying out the lane usage for each part of the trail. For the southernmost car lane on the section on Market between 24th and 30th, it says “parallel parking, bus lane or right turn lane”.

      Which is it? To my mind, that’s the whole game right there. If that parallel parking goes away, I think you’re right, we get a brand new lawsuit, and a new set of enemies for the trail.

    • Damon says:

      Oh, wait, now I see. The map indicates where spots will be preserved and where they’ll be removed.

      So, it looks like the big parking losers are Kiss Cafe and Portage Bay. I wonder how many beers and pancakes I could promise to buy if they don’t sue. Because I will totally buy all their beers and pancakes. I love their beers and pancakes.

      • Gary says:

        Actually a cafe and the Portage bay restaurant should be big winners once bicycling safely to them is possible. We’ve seen that in other parts of the city where people bicycle by a place which has decent bicycle parking has had a net growth in revenue.

      • Damon says:

        I couldn’t agree more! I hope all the Market St. business owners west of 24th see it the same way.

  10. Bob Hall says:

    Wow, there is a lot of crazy on both sides of this debate.

    Fellow cyclists: Those of you proposing these business shouldn’t exist in Ballard are really hurting our cause. There is a severe lack of trust and goodwill on both sides. Fish’s comment above asks how the city benefits by having lots of well-paying blue-collar jobs in Ballard. What??? Newsflash: a city is better off with more than one type of industry. Having tech jobs is great, but not everyone is going to work in that sector. Having good industrial / maritime jobs is a huge benefit to the workers and the city as a whole.

    To Nicole Grant: I commend you for your candor! These quotes speak volumes: “Our argument is super basic: Shilshole is taken” and “I just don’t believe in peaceful coexistance in this case”. I give you a lot of credit for speaking so plainly. You don’t sound like good neighbor trying to reach consensus, you sound like a thug in a turf war. The message is: “This belongs to us, our interests are the only ones that matter, the rest of you should go elsewhere.” Wow, what a great way to build trust and reach a compromise! My question for you is: Is an industry that can’t survive a multi-use trail very robust? If your industry is so fragile, is it indeed an asset to the city? My opinion is that your industry *is* needed and it *is* robust and it would absolutely thrive even if some people jog or ride a bike near you.

    • Fish says:

      I thought I made it abundantly clear in my questioning that I wasn’t stating my personal opinion. We have a serious housing and transportation problem in this city and I think it’s fair to ask why having this industry LOCATED in ballard and downtown Seattle is more important than housing for thousands, improved public transit and bike infrastructure and more park space. It’s not an unreasonable question. Of course, blue collar jobs are important but what good is it to locate those jobs in the most expensive areas forcing employees to commute from very far away. I am just asking the question.

  11. Ballard Resident says:

    Yes Dee Ann, I see that area every day. So do you live on a yacht in Salmon Bay?

  12. ronp says:

    This is the stupidest debate known to mankind. Just build the trail on any alignment, no one will care about it a year after it is built. People will love it and use the heck out of it. Just build it.

  13. Eugene Wasserman says:

    For those of you who are really interested in the traffic safety issues of the Shilshole Ave segment, Segment 2 as it is titled in the project, there will be a workshop on Thursday, June 29, 3-6 PM at the Ballard VFW Hall 2812 NW Market Street, Seattle WA 98107. It is open to the public.

    See you there.

  14. Jackal says:

    “‘Shilshole is taken,’ she said. The street must be reserved ‘for things that are not recreation and not arterial transportation methods for any kind of transit: Car, bike or bus.'”
    This might be the most asinine argument against any traffic project I’ve ever heard. I will enjoy continuing to ride down Shilshole, as I am legally entitled to do, but now a little more slowly and a lot more to the left.

  15. Elevated Bikeway says:

    Maybe we could get an elevated bikeway… like a bike viaduct… a bike-a-duct.

  16. RossB says:

    I think it would sense to treat the major driveways as if they were streets. When things get too busy, you add traffic signals. They would operate like so:

    1) Add a turn lane and a left turn arrow on Shilshole Avenue, before the driveway.

    2) Add signals for both Shilshole Avenue and the Burke Gilman.

    3) Add crosswalks at the same location (if appropriate).

    4) Add stoplight traffic detectors in both the turn lane and the exit of the driveway. Add “beg lights” for pedestrians if you added crosswalks.

    5) On both the main road and the bike lane, the light would be green most of the time. But if a car (or truck) arrived and triggered the signal, everyone stops while it enters or leaves the driveway.

    There are some drawbacks with this idea. The first is figuring out where the signals are needed. As the map shows, there are a bunch of driveways. But a lot of the driveways are redundant. For example, the biker in this picture is about to cross a driveway: https://goo.gl/maps/hbvaRJDuz1R2. This allows access to the property to the west. But you can access that same property via the big driveway to the north, in the center of this picture: https://goo.gl/maps/7EQD5Mz7fwC2. Just enter there, follow the road (which even has a yellow line) all the way around to the other property. So there are only a handful of driveways where you need access. I count only half a dozen new traffic lights, and that is being very generous (https://drive.google.com/open?id=1ECNDhnq42XhsRjMKzFBBx1k3zy4&usp=sharing). My guess is you wouldn’t need as many. Right now the Burke Gilman intersects 14th, but there is no traffic light. Traffic on 14th is forced to stop, and yield to bikes (and 45th eastbound traffic). The additional lights could be mildly irritating for bikers, but these are lights that are green most of the time. It isn’t like stop signs.

    The biggest drawback is that building this would be expensive. But it would be worth it, for several reasons:

    1) Safety. Without a traffic signal, someone turning left into a typical driveway (e. g. here https://goo.gl/maps/czPWF5gQPp32) will have to look for both oncoming traffic as well as bikes heading the same direction from behind. That is a dangerous situation, especially on a street with so few lights (i. e. one where a lot of people drive too fast).

    2) Makes access to those driveways easier. Seattle is a growing city, and traffic of all kinds will likely increase on Shilshole. As it is, the fastest way from Fremont to 24th north of Market is to use Shilshole. Both communities are growing, and all it takes is a few long overdue traffic lights on Leary (or a road diet) to send a lot more traffic to Shilshole. This will make it more difficult for people to turn left there, with or without increased bike traffic.

    3) With better access for the local businesses, you actually give them an incentive to do the right thing in the future, and support a better bike alignment west of 24th. Give Salmon Bay Sand and Gravel its own turn lane and traffic signal, and maybe companies like Ballard Oil Company can accept the bike path on 54th.

    As I said, this is expensive, and maybe the long term plan is to add some of this (especially for the last intersection I mentioned). But I think discussing these details might get some of these companies to second guess their strategy of dragging everything out via litigation since they would actually get something out of the new path.

  17. bleugh says:

    Anybody else feeling like it’s time for a Critical Mass style invasion of industrial Ballard?

  18. Dave says:

    Deal with every concerned party’s very reasonable fear of displacement and let the Seattle city council go hard left and legislate a fixed, absolutely finite limit on the value of real property, selling above which will cause immediate jailing of the seller and confiscation of the land. Tackle the social disease of speculation head on.

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