Barring a court order, construction on the Ballard Missing Link of the Burke-Gilman Trail is scheduled to begin this winter. So while an appeal is still working its way through the courts, the city is moving forward with a construction plan that would have the trail fully open by the end of 2020. That’s 18 years after the Seattle City Council first voted to build this segment.
The work has beed divided into two phases that will overlap. The first section, from the Locks to 24th and Market, is scheduled to begin construction in just a few months. If all goes as planned, it would be open in about a year. Construction on the second phase, from Market St. to Fred Meyer, is set to begin in the summer and would open in autumn of 2020.
The biggest sticking point of the whole route is the industrial driveway crossings along Shilshole. The latest design includes green paint and flashing LED signs warning trail users about trucks.
Many crosswalks have been significantly improved, as well. And there is now a biking and walking path to the 20th Ave NW Street End Park on Salmon Bay, which I did not even know existed. So that’s very cool. Here are the latest designs moving from east to west:
An appeal is still in process in King County Superior Court, where the appellants have a pretty tough case to make. They would need to convince the court that the Environmental Impact Statement and/or the Seattle Hearing Examiner process that ruled in the city’s favor were in some way legally inadequate. For example, the court recently denied an appellant argument that the Hearing Examiner was biased because he was promoted shortly after deciding in the city’s favor (the judge said that if an examiner pursuing career advancement were considered bias, that would “taint virtually all decision making by that body.”). Let’s hope the rest of the appellants’ arguments are similarly ineffective.
Because after this much delay, it would not be wise to assume this project will be completed until crews are pouring the cement. This is the closest the trail has ever been to construction, but appellants are still fighting hard.
Here’s the latest project update from SDOT:
Design of the Burke-Gilman Trail Missing Link is nearly complete! The final design reflects ideas that we heard from key stakeholders, including an 11-member Design Advisory Committee (DAC), as well as community members from the Ballard area to design and refine the Missing Link and complete a multimodal corridor that supports all users.
We expect construction of the Missing Link will be split into two phases (see the map and construction timeline below).
- Phase 1, including the portions of the corridor on NW 54th St and NW Market St, is expected to begin construction in early 2019.
- The project team is continuing to work with property and business owners to further refine the design for Phase 2, which includes the portion of the corridor on Shilshole Ave NW and NW 45th St. Design for Phase 2 is expected to be complete by 2019, with construction expected to begin in mid-2019.
You can view the latest Missing Link design plans on the project website.
What is the Burke-Gilman Trail Missing Link project?
The Burke-Gilman Trail is a regional, mixed-use facility that runs from Golden Gardens Park in Seattle to the Sammamish River Trail in Bothell. The trail is complete except for a 1.4-mile segment through the Ballard neighborhood, known as the “Missing Link.”
The scope of the Burke-Gilman Trail Missing Link project has evolved from a multi-use trail to a full multi-modal corridor that will accommodate all users for generations to come. Completing the Missing Link will create a safe, direct, and defined multi-use trail for persons of all abilities. It will also improve predictability for motorized and non-motorized users along the alignment and maintain truck and freight access to the industrial and water-dependent businesses within the Ballard Interbay Northend Manufacturing and Industrial Center (BINMIC).
Through extensive community engagement during design, we’ve learned more about the corridor improvements that stakeholders would like to see. In addition to the trail, additional improvements include new street paving along Market St, new traffic signals on Shilshole, improved pedestrian crosswalks and sidewalks, a new access road, and new stormwater infrastructure.
The Missing Link has been included in the City’s comprehensive plan since the early 1990s, and is identified as one of the City of Seattle’s top-rated trail priorities in the 2014 Bicycle Master Plan.