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Judge decides Missing Link megastudy did not adequately address economic concerns

In yet another partial court defeat, the Ballard Missing Link of the Burke-Gilman Trail has once again been thrown into question this week after King County Superior Court Judge Samuel Chung sided with the city on two out of three of the major challenges to its environmental megastudy of the trail route. But that isn’t enough.

We are still trying to learn what exactly this means for the project, which is currently scheduled to begin construction early next year. So stay tuned. UPDATE: The City Attorney’s Office told the Seattle Times they disagree with the decision and plan to appeal it.

Previous court decisions required the city to conduct a massive environmental impact statement (“EIS”), the kind of study typically required of megaprojects on a much larger scale than a short stretch of biking and walking trail. The 829-page study took years to complete at significant cost. It’s safe to say that this is the most-studied section of trail in state history. Maybe in the nation?

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Because the city conducted the EIS, trail opponents’ only legal path was to argue that the city’s study, which the Seattle Hearing Examiner approved, was legally inadequate. This should have been a pretty tough bar to clear, but they did it. Appellant attorney Josh Brower continues to surprise with his ability to win just enough to block or delay this project. This is the second time he has won small pieces of his cases against the trail in King County Superior Court.

On questions of safety and parking, the judge found the study adequate. So that’s the good news. But on the question of economic impact, the judge found the study inadequate. Specifically, the judge “identified the potential for increased costs of insurance” as the basis for the ruling, according to a Cascade Bicycle Club statement. Cascade has been involved in the legal fight for many years, intervening on the city’s behalf.

“We believe this can be resolved and that the City can move forward with getting construction back on track,” the statement says.

The question of increased insurance costs has been floated for many years as a reason to block the trail. It’s always been a somewhat baffling argument because the trail is safety project designed to provide folks biking and walking with a separated and protected space to do so. It also feels strange that the whims of a private insurance company could decide whether the city can build a trail on public right of way. But here we are. It has been an argument against the trail for so long that it is discouraging that the city did not address it well enough in its massive study to satisfy the court.

The case is moving to King County Superior Court Judge Roger Rogoff starting in January.

I have a question into the city about what it would take to satisfy the judge’s concern and what the timeline for that could be. I will update when I hear back.

In the meantime, here’s the full statement from Cascade:

While the members, leadership and staff of Cascade Bicycle Club are disappointed in the overall outcome of the ruling today in King County Superior Court, it is clear that Judge Samuel Chung agreed that the bulk of the Missing Link Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) was sufficient. Specifically, he ruled that the EIS was sufficient in the areas of traffic analysis and safety as well as the review of any loss of parking. Conversely, Judge Chung identified the analysis of economic impacts—specifically the potential for increased costs of insurance—as the single basis for ruling the EIS deficient. We believe this can be resolved and that the City can move forward with getting construction back on track.

“Unfortunately the real cost of this obstruction campaign is borne by the over 300 people a year who suffer injuries on the Missing Link,” says Richard Smith, Executive Director of Cascade Bicycle Club. “For over 20 years, a few deep-pocketed individuals have delayed while the community of Ballard has waited for their preferred route.”

Since the Environmental Impact Statement was completed in 2013, thousands of residents and businesses have weighed in on the EIS and subsequent design process saying they want to ‘Complete the Missing Link!’ During the EIS comment process alone, 77 percent of the 4,500 respondents indicated a preference to locate along the preferred alternative, which runs along NW 45th St., Shilshole Ave. NW and NW Market St.

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115 responses to “Judge decides Missing Link megastudy did not adequately address economic concerns”

  1. Gary Yngve

    Do the South Canal industries pay increased insurance? What about the industries on the Burke between 4th Ave W and 6th Ave W? The industries are holding our trail hostage over a bunch of FUD!

    1. Southeasterner

      No, they don’t need more insurance and all the claims against the trail are unsubstantiated. There are two lawyers, Josh Brower and George Griffen, who are making a living off of lawsuits against the city on bike/ped facilities.

      They even set up a ridiculous website that is straight out of a Trump playbook to turn your strongest weakness into your greatest strength…in this case the illusion of safety.


  2. MikeG

    Has anyone investigated who made contributions to this judge’s election campaigns? Is there some connection between the judge and the plaintiffs?

  3. Richard

    This is mind boggling. Is this judge paid off or something?? At this point, so many decades, so many injuries, and millions upon millions spent on studies, what other explanation is even possible??

  4. Ballard Biker

    300 people per year injured? BS! Would love to see that evidence. It wasn’t near that number in the past, before they fixed the part under the Ballard Bridge where the trail crosses the tracks and people were actually getting hurt. No one is getting hurt on Shilshole.

    1. Andres Salomon

      Yeah. Tom had previously reported 1 person per month being sent to the hospital. That obviously doesn’t include people with minor injuries, but almost 1 per day seems awfully high..


      Unrelated, but I sure hope folks are contacting their state representatives to focus on reforming state environmental laws!

      1. Richard

        Is this really a state environmental law? What RCW is it that requires evaluation of impacts to private insurance for road changes?

        As a side question, I’d be very interested in seeing the insurance impact evaluations of *EVERY STREET PROJECT* in the city, since it’s apparently required by law.

        Oh, btw, on a *TOTALLY* unrelated note, any lawyers on this board want to form a coalition to sue the city with regard to lack of substantive insurance impact analysis on ALL the shitty infrastructure projects going on around the city?

        Yes, this is mostly hyperbole, but having said that, not as hyperbolic as it should be, by a long shot.

      2. Richard

        Neither of those mention insurance directly, and I see nothing that even could be interpreted as implying it.

        Bad law is one thing; blatant misapplication is another. I don’t have an opinion on whether the former applies here, but the latter very much seems to.

    2. Matt

      I live near the end of the missing link. People wipe out on the tracks under the ballard bridge all of time time. I stop and help whenever I can. Take a ride down here on a sunny summer day sometime and check it out. It’s a really poorly designed part of the trail.

  5. Sad long time Ballard property owner

    The city can go ahead and build it and call it a sidewalk. That area needs the parking mess fixed and improve it for pedestrians.

    Vote the judge out of office!

  6. Dave

    I thought the city struck a compromise with these guys two years ago to not litigate further and the trail moved from the much more desirable NW 54th St to the insanely busy Market Street. The trail should have been moved back to 54th over this breach of the agreement. The city needs to grow a pair, or this project will never happen.


    1. Dave

      Or let’s get more creative. Maybe some utility or environmental group would like to start a fund to offer incentives to homeowners to switch from heating oil to natural gas or heat pumps.

      Maybe an extra tax on delivered concrete would help pay to fix the potholes that the trucks cause.

      1. Rich

        Concrete production is a major generator of CO2.

      2. Ballard Resident

        Ballard Oil doesn’t care about selling to residents. I asked Warren about that.

  7. Ballard Biker

    And don’t forget, SPU is going to dig a bunch of up it anyway…


  8. Mark

    The Court ruled that the safety, traffic, and parking analysis was adequate, which was the most critical part. The City just needs to complete an analysis concerning the economic impact related to insurance and providing flaggers for those businesses, which shouldn’t be hard to do. The design and construction of the Trail will improve safety and reduce risk. Moreover, installing signal devices where their driveways intersect with the Trail has already been discussed. It has been done successfully in other places and the City can install and maintain them.

  9. Skylar

    Given the history of nuisance lawsuits, is there any way we can do our own nuisance legal action against the businesses? Get L&I and DNR in there looking for safety or environmental violations, get the city finance folks auditing their books looking for sales tax and payroll violations, get the construction permitting office in there looking for unpermitted improvements, look for employed truck drivers lacking proper CDL or insurance, etc. Two can play this game!

    1. Southeasterner

      Of greater concern is while only 2 businesses are really against the trail, the primary opposition is coming from 10 different labor unions!

      Ironically Local 174 had to go on strike to get Ballard Sand and Gravel to agree to basic raises in a hot market. Two other concrete companies along the Burke in Fremont and Kenmore raised union salaries without any union action.

      Why labor unions are spending dues on legal fees against a trail is beyond comprehension.

      1. Matt

        They’re against it because their members will be out of jobs if a bike pulls out in front of a cement truck. Condo builders are the other threat to driving us out.

        It sucks. This is old ballard’s last stand.

      2. Southeastern


        Why are you so worried about job losses?

        Why not instead just call up Foss, Coastal Transportation, Ocean Beauty, Gascoigne Lumber, Canal Marina, Lakeside Industries, Kvichak Marine, Bieker Boats, Western Towboat, Northlake Shipyard, Dunn Lumber, Kenmore Air, Kenmore Asphalt, Alaska General Seafoods, Evergreen Sand & Gravel, and the 100+ other businesses along the Ship Canal Trail and existing Burke Gilman trail that haven’t gone out of business or had to lay off anyone. Ask them how much more dangerous is it having people and cyclists in a physically separated facility than on the street.

        The argument Ballard Sand and Gravel and the unions is making hasn’t played out anywhere that a trail has been installed. It’s complete and utterly baseless fear mongering to protect employee parking spots. That’s it.

    2. Yesler

      I would caution strongly against this. These businesses are owned by and employ real people, who have real mortgage payments, and real kids in college. They see a potential threat to their livelihoods by being driven out of the neighborhood and fear their concerns are not being taken seriously.

      Perhaps these concerns are misplaced, and bikes and a working waterfront can co-exist. However, by advocating a policy of attacking people’s livelihoods, you are proving you don’t care about their livelihoods. I guarantee the ending won’t make you happy.

      1. Richard

        They’re attacking public safety. I dont want them to lose their jobs but id damn well rather that happen thancallow them to perpetuate dozens of more injuries across another two decades.

      2. Matt

        How so? Theres other options besides shilshole for the burke. Why is everyone so hellbent on using shilshole?

        How many accidents really happen on shilshole due to industrial traffic? I’d wager that theres more injuries sustained on the section of the trail that crosses the tracks under the ballard bridge.

      3. Richard

        Is that really the argument you want to be making? Because its really quite simple – if they cannot operate their vehicles safely they have no business operating their vehicles in any public right of way.

      4. Matt

        If it were that simple, we wouldn’t use trains, buses, airplanes or trolleys because they sometimes injure people. Your argument is far too simplistic for the real world.

      5. Richard

        Oh good, we agree the trail should move forward then! Because I remind you, The argument isnt mine, it’s the lawyers’. Im just pointing out that if you believe the core fact of their argument (that these companies are too dangerous to coexist with foot and bicycle traffic in a public right of way), the logical conclusion is not to allow those claiming they cause danger to dictate infrastructure, but to remove amy company that claims to pose a danger to the public.

        It’s good that you and I agree that these claims are false.

      6. Matt

        We do in fact agree that the trail should move forward. Our difference is where the missing link should be located.

        The lawyers have a legitimate gripe due to the inherent danger of sifting more cyclists and
        pedistrians around heavy equipment.

        Would you rather have dinner under a hanging piano or open air. The concept and statics are pretty easy to understand.

      7. Richard

        The word “inherent” has a meaning you seem to fail to grasp. A vehicle IS capable of being operated safely; if the danger we’re truly inherent this would not be possible.

        Even if you were right, the logical answer would be to remove the “inherently” dangerous equipment from populated areas. Luckily thats unnecessary, as the claim itself is nonsense.

      8. Matt

        Where are you going to put these indistries? Around poorer people who aren’t as active in politics? I bet you’re still going to give them a call when you need lay a pad for your new garage, though.

        You’re really focused on finishing this missing link no matter the cost. You’re not taking in to consideration the cost of local business and a community that you’ve probably never met.

        When’s the last time someone actually got creamed by a cement truck? Have you ever driven a big truck and observed their blind spots?

      9. Richard

        Not to be rude, but are you reading what I wrote? There is no reason to move them, because their argument is false. I’m just saying if they were truly such a huge danger to the public, we would have to, for the safety of the community

      10. Matt

        Yes I am. You’re trying to play a mocking role as the devils advocate to outlaw cement trucks on public roads to prove a point that cyclists should be able to take the shilshole shortcut in a protected lane.

        I understand the struggle of the burke and want to missing link to succeed! I commute to work downtown via bike every chance I get.

        You’re not grasping the impact that the missing link will take on the businesses that make old ballard.

        Leary is a much better idea and will have far less consequence to local industry.

      11. Evan

        He’s not grasping it because the argument has no substance to grasp. The businesses don’t even have the decency to respond to the city’s cited reasons for choosing the alignment they did, instead repeating the same debunked talking points in the hopes that they find an audience who knows nothing about the trail except what they tell them.

        What examples have they cited to support their argument? The only thing they have is this idea that their trucks are inherently too dangerous to be anywhere near people walking and biking. If that were true, these businesses should have been shut down long ago, because trucks are around people walking and biking just about everywhere in the city. Their right to operate on public streets is based on the assumption that they can safely be around other users of said public streets. There’s nothing about right turns across the Burke that is more dangerous than right turns across crosswalks and bike lanes elsewhere.

  10. Marko

    Yes this is a setback and the decision seems odd. I’m glad it will be appealed, though this of course will create more delay.

    As for the opponents’ alternative route approach, I actually like the cycle track through Ballard idea. BUT … not as a substitute for the missing link along Shilshole, but as an additional cycle track to serve the shopping and restaurant district.

    The cycling and safe streets communities really should be demanding more. Time to revitalized Critical Mass (without the part that scared folks.)

    1. asdf2

      I usually traverse the missing link by taking 17th to Ballard Ave., to Market St., and the most dangerous part is the crossing of 46th, where you’ve got a two-way stop, with cars having the right of way, heavy traffic (which means, openings, when they happen, are brief, so you have to move fast). And, on top of this, there’s a blind curve, making it hard to see if somebody’s coming.

      If nothing else, the city could at least install a traffic signal to allow cyclists to safely cross 46th to get from the Burke-Gilman to 17th Ave. They could have done this yesterday, without waiting on a lengthy appeals process, and, whether the Missing Link ultimately gets built or not, this crossing is still needed anyway, because people have to be able to get from Fremont to the actual Ballard businesses, not just pass through to go to the locks.

      1. Ballard Resident

        The city needs to fix the parking mess and add a sidewalk on south Shilshole for pedestrians. Also they need barriers on the north sidewalks to keep cars and trucks off of it. Right now the back ends of trucks stick into the sidewalk, The businesses along the north sidewalk also need to fix them before they get sued for someone tripping ever broken concrete on their way to the market.

        I say start the construction of everything but the trail and leave gravel where the trail should be. At least get rid of the potholes.Call it an improvement for the street and pedestrians. People are already using it so fix it.

  11. Ballard Resident

    How about getting tow trucks and towing cars and trucks off the track whenever they park on them? The city should do that.

    When I see someone parked on the tracks can I call a tow company to remove them and they’ll do it?


    What’s the problem here ..All I see is a bunch of cry babies that want to sue everyone.. If you can’t walk or ride your bike with out falling down that’s your problem.. I go out in the woods and fall down and hurt myself it’s up to me to take care of any cost .the problem seems to be that it must be some one else’s problem and That somebody must pay for me falling down ..YA RIGHT !!!
    I can solve this whole problem just make bike cycles get license plates and insurance so when they crash they can take care of their bike and any personal injury.and when they run a red light the camera that takes a picture of any car that runs it ..can now send them a ticket in the mail also ..JUST WATCH WHAT YOU ASK FOR PEOPLE .

    1. Ballard Resident

      Yes, let’s put red light cameras on every intersection in Ballard! I see so many cars blow past the red lights in Ballard, ALL the TIME. I’ve nearly gotten hit several times walking across the street on foot.

      Let’s also put in paid parking every where so that everyone pays for taking space on public property.

      1. Matt

        Bikes blow through em too. I drive and bike and it is a huge problem. Stupid on both sides of the fence.

      2. STiK

        True this. An ass is an ass. Method of transportation does not change this. What they truly need is a plan that not only adds the trail, but also addresses parking and fixes the road. I understand the safety issue concerns of the big trucks but safety depends on all involved… Granted I’d rather get hit by a Prius over a huge cement truck, regardless of who is at fault.

    2. Before you respond to this troll take a step back and realize: He’s just trying to use our own quite reasonable anger to deflect from the real issue. As long as we’re distracted we can’t organize an effective response.

      I do think it’s funny he calls us sue-happy when ALL of the dozens of suits filed regarding the missing link, in a constant barrage, over the course of almost 25 years now have been from his side of the fence. Thats some near trumpian level of nuspeak :) oh, and it’s nice how we’re whiners because we’d like to stop what is at a minimum hospitalizing a dozen people a year, while his side’s *claimed* motivation for two and a half decades of obstructive lawsuits is that their own employees are incompetent and unsafe!

      1. Ballard Resident

        Oh, I’m not distract a bit. They’ll always spout this nonsense and resort to name calling. He should go back to myballard.com to commune with the Trolls over there.

        As far as Shilshole is concerned, it’s time for different tactics.

  13. Matt

    I don’t see the reason behind putting the lane through shilshole to begin with. I live down there and it’s an industrial place with boat yards, a gravel business and a working trail. The trail already goes along leary; why not just continue it along leary up to market? The whole thing is a huge mess. The businesses along shilshole do have a legitimate gripe. You’re trying to build a bike trail through a friggin work site with forklifts, dump trucks and huge yachts on trailers.. what could go wrong?

    1. Richard

      So youre adopting the argument that the employees there are so incompetent that they cannot be trusted to operate their equipment in the vicinity of a public right of way? Because this is already a public right of way, right now. Im down with that. How do we start the process of shutting them down for rampant safety violations then? Or is this really just a BS excuse made up to justify blatant bike hate without having to admit its nothing more than bike hate?

      1. Matt

        Why would you want to shut down old ballard to put a bike trail through it when theres plenty of room on Leary? Thats messed up.

        These are businesses hanging on to the old industries that defined ballard. You wanna just kick them to the curb so you can ride your bike through it?

        I understand that we’ve already sunk a lot of money into the project. Just step back and think about it. It’s just not a safe idea.

      2. Richard

        It’s *already* a public right of way. If they are truly a danger to the public as you and they claim, they shouldn’t be there – bike trail or no.

      3. Matt

        It’s not that black and white. Businesses are afraid of an increased pedestrian and cyclist presence in this industrial area. Accidents are called accidents for a reason and theres an obvious increase in chance of accidents as the number of bodies moving through the area increases.

        It’s the same reason I dont hang out in a shipyard for fun. I work there when I have to. It’s generally safe, but theres a much more likely chance of injury compared to, say, a grassy park.

      4. Richard

        Yeah it is. If they cannot operate safely, they have no moral or ethical right to operate. End of sentence.

      5. Also, “accidents” being called accidents is a mechanism to distance negligent vehicle operators from responsibility. Over 95% can be definitively tracked to negligence.

        This has been a specific hot topic of the cycling community for several years. Your use of that highly flawed argument kinda calls into question your earlier claim of being a cyclist; if you are one, you’re woefully uninformed with regard to cycling safety issues.

      6. Matt

        Humans will always be human, but you can train some of them. I’m not in a cars vs bikes argument with you. I assume that’s the subject matter of the statistic you just threw out.

        The equipment operators at these businesses are required to receive a lot more stringent training than automobile operators. A lot more than I am required in order to operate my bicycle. But I digress.

      7. Richard

        They get this more stringent training, yet they claim in court that they cant operate their vehicles safely. Are they liars or so ridiculously incompetent that even with the more stringent training they remain a danger to the public??

      8. Matt

        There’s just inherent danger around big trucks.

        Youre really trying hard to imply that there’s some negligence involved in this hypothetical situation that hasn’t yet happened. I’m really trying to figure out your angle.

        Theres a reason I dont hang out in a cars blind spot at a traffic stop. IT’S DANGEROUS. They’re probably not going to hit you.. but there’s a far greater chance they will if you hang out there all the time.

        The statistics are simple. If you hang out around large machinery, you’re more likely to get injured. If you hang out on a grassy knoll on the Elliott bay bike path, you’re far less likely to get creamed.

      9. Richard

        If big trucks pose an inherent risk severe enough to prohibit their coexistence with the public roght of way (which is patently false, but for the sake of argument), it is morally indefensible to allow them to remain in an existing public right of way already in use by foot, bike, and vehicle traffic. The logical conclusion to your argument is not to prevent a cycle track, its to remove heavy equipment based industry from populated areas.

        Fortunately we live in a world where people are capable of taking responsibility for their actions and operating their machinery to a reasonable standard of safety, and can reasonably be held responsible when they fail to meet those standards (though we cam certainly do better with both). These arguments are just the latest batch of excuses.

      10. Matt

        This argument is statistics, which is how insurance companies function.

    2. Ballard Resident

      Pedestrians, that’s why. BGT is not a cycle track.

      Build a sidewalk on south Shilshole to make is safer. Also, fix or add sidewalks on the north side. Make those businesses properly maintaining those sidewalks and keep cars off of them. I often see the back end of trucks pushed over the sidewalk on the north side. On the south side they park too close to the street and hinder sight lines. I have plenty of pictures that I can show you. How about cameras to catch the illegal parking on the tracks and else where?

      Streets must also be maintained for cyclists as well as motor vehicles (see O’Neil vs. Port Orchard http://www.courts.wa.gov/opinions/pdf/D2%2047149-3-II%20Published%20Opinion.pdf). This city is currently at risk of a lawsuit for injury on Shilshole because they have not properly maintained it. Improving that area for safety will help insurance rates, not hinder them. All the people that are injured on that street should send their bills to the city. Could we start a class action lawsuit?

      I would support red light cameras at every intersection to catch any form of transport from running red lights. Also add them to catch illegal parking on Shilshole.

      1. Matt

        I’m up for improved matinence and sidewalks, hell a couple extra sidewalks would be fantastic. Maybe a stop sign or two.

        A dedicated bike lane is a terrible idea. Are you going to put a stop sign at every business driveway and expect cyclists to actually obey them?

        I drive, cycle and live on this stretch. I’m happy the impact is being re-evaluated. The trail is wonderful up until this stretch. Leary makes way more sense.

      2. Richard

        A) any increased risk from bgt would be the same sort of impact from sidewalks: only an increased risk if drivers are negligent.

        It’s revealing that you would support a sidewalk but not bgt, which you repeatedly mischaracterized as a bike track or lane.

        B) no, putting stop signs on the trail would be idiotic; traffic yields when crossing sidewalks or trails; asking people to adopt a completely different behavioral pattern than what exists everywhere else in the city would be creating the safety risk you repeatedly falsely claim. No, we would expect the drivers to comply with existing law, just as they must every time they cross a sidewalk or trail now. Unless theynreallybare as incompetent and dangerous as thw businesses and you claim, in which case the onlynresponsible course of axtion is to shut them down. I dont believe that, but if it’s true, thats the only responsible course of action.

      3. Richard

        Yay mobile. “Unless they really are…”, “…the businesses…”, “…only responsible…”, …action…”

      4. Matt

        I feel your pain.

      5. Matt

        A) This leg of the burke is primarily sees bicycle traffic. Most cyclists here currently use the road, which is much safer.

        B) putting a dedicated bgt link here would also significantly alter traffic patterns.

      6. Matt

        ..which is safer (than riding on sidewalks)..

        Sorry for the ambiguity.

      7. Richard

        “This leg of the burke is primarily sees bicycle traffic. Most cyclists here currently use the road, which is much safer.”

        The leg that doesnt exist, in an area with shitball sidewalks? Oh well thats clearly meaningful!

        “putting a dedicated bgt link here would also significantly alter traffic patterns.”

        Yeah, cyclists would use the trail instead of the street, and pedestrians would actually have a reasonable path (which youve already stated you support). And?

      8. Richard

        If youre saying the street is safer than the Burke Gilman, that claim makes no sense. If you’re saying the street is safer than the sidewalk you’re correct, but dont see how it relates to this discussion.

      9. Matt

        I’m not, that was just a poorly worded statement on my part. I’m saying that the road safer for cyclists on this stretch. Otherwise, you have to go really slow and yield at every drive way.

      10. Matt

        I’m talking the leg that leads up under the ballard bridge to the missing link.

        Cyclists on this missing link stretch use the road instead of the sidewalks. It’s kind of a dick move to ride on the sidewalks here, I’ve had close calls as a pedestrian with cyclists a number of times. Slow down on the sidewalks.

        No reason to be a jerk. I’m just trying to present an apparently unpopular opinion on why this is a terrible idea. This impacts me and my community. I bike, drive, walk and boat through here.

        Why not be open to an alternate and safer route? The ballard side of Leary is a friggin untapped resource for cyclists! Its wider and traffic flows waaaaay better.

      11. Richard

        Because this is not a bike lane, its the burke Gilman trail – a bike lane, ANY bike lane, regardless of location, would only provide a small fraction of the purpose of the burke Gilman – and thats what every myopic “alternative” has been. Plus, more businesses would be involved in the alternative locations. Given that this has nothing to do with safety (unless they really are as dangerous as they say, in which case they need to be shut or moved out of the city altogether), just some crotchety assholes that have a ridiculous hate on for cyclists (and are happy to ignore all the other users), theres nothing to stop all those other businesses from doing the same damn thing… And there are a lot more involved, all who will see the precedent set that even if a tiny minority opposes it for no sensible reason whatsoever, throwing some bullshit lawsuits up over and over can get their way, so chances are very good indeed they’ll give it a shot.

        This is hate driven obstructionism, nothing more – and giving in to it and accepting a bike lane as a substitute for one of the best multi use trails in the nation would be a disservice to every user who travels it – and every user who doesn’t because their need isn’t served – for far longer than the 2 decades these shitbirds have already burned.

        We need this done NOW – but much more importantly, we need it done RIGHT.

    3. Ballard Resident

      On the contrary it is a safe idea. Those business could careless about safety or they’d fix the sidewalks down there, stop parking illegally and make their cement trucks slow down when they drive on Leary.

      1. Matt

        Do you actually have experience with this area? The cement trucks and fork lifts don’t seem to cause many issues. I see the car drivers that this this is their own private highway as a larger issues. They speed and have little regard for pedestrians.

        Another issue is that the new paid parking had driven more and more people to park near the tracks since it’s free. I see cars parked illegally every single day. Not so much industrial vehicles.

    4. Ballard Resident (property owner)

      Yes I live in Ballard an frequently walk, ride and drive that area.

      1. Ballard Resident

        I agree. Make all vehicles pay for parking and ticket the ones that illegally park on the tracks.

      2. Matt

        Do you ride on shilshole because it’s a good idea or do you ride there because that’s where the burke ends?

      3. Ballard Resident

        I ride on the north sidewalk and on the dirt on the south side, even though it’s tough to do with all those illegally parked cars and the shitty sidewalks. Having fat tires helps.

        I’ve given SDOT pictures of what’s going on down there.

        Also drive and walk in that area. I live here.

      4. Matt

        I just ride in the road. Too many blind corners and driveways. I would suggest you do the same when on shilshole.

      5. Ballard Resident

        It doesn’t matter why anyone choses to ride on or near Shilshole. It’s a public street, open to all forms of transportation. It’s the best route to Fred Meyer and beyond. It needs to be safer for everyone (pedestrians, cyclists and vehicles).

      6. Matt

        Not for long. Wait until that pcc/west marine opens up and traffic increases on this dinky and narrow stretch. It will no longer be the fastest way by car. Hell, you’re going to have to bike it.

        Theres inherent danger in an industrial zone but I dont think it’s much worse than other areas. The businesses are worried about the staticlstics of more bodies = greater chance of accidents.

      7. Ballard Resident

        “The businesses are worried about the staticlstics of more bodies = greater chance of accidents.”

        It’s happening now with or without a trail. There’s already plans for a seven story apartment building on Market near 24th (http://www.myballard.com/2018/08/13/plans-moving-ahead-for-seven-story-apartment-building-on-market-st/). Will they sue about this? Will those residents stay off Shilshole? How will they access “Not 54th” to get in and out of the building? And this isn’t the only residential building being built in the area.

        Yeah, like you said. Riding a bike will be the best way to get around Ballard. That and the bus. I leave my car in the garage when I travel around Ballard.

      8. Matt

        I’m worried about the maritime and construction trades down here. It’s a pretty neat community and theres a lot of fellow residents employed by the companies along this stretch. They provide a lot of services most people dont know even exist.

        The new apartment and this missing link are going to be a pretty large blow to us. I’m literally going to lose my home. I know its going to happen, but I’ll keep fighting.

      9. Ballard Resident

        There’s plenty of construction jobs in Ballard. Heck, it’ll be a construction business that will improve Shilshole.

      10. Ballard Resident

        Eugene and his buddies could buy you a house. He’s such a swell guy that cares for people that live here.

  14. Eugene Wasserman

    To correct a fact in the story; King County Superior Court has now rejected the Seattle Department of Transportation EIS work on this project three times by two different judges. This is probably a Washington State record.

    If you are mad about the delays, your anger should be at the Seattle Department of Transportation for now following SEPA laws and regulations as Tom has suggested in his stories.

    The Ballard Coalition includes the Martin Luther King Jr. Labor Council, so when you disparage the Ballard Coalition you are disparaging them as well.

    1. Ballard Resident

      That’s rich. You and you’re associates including labor are solely to blame. You all cause the delay.

  15. Eugene Wasserman

    I meant to say not, instead of now in the third paragraph of my comments

  16. JB

    I don’t understand why people who crash their bikes due to the lack of a decent bike trail through Ballard aren’t suing the city and whoever else is obstructing things. Crashes and injuries are an entirely predictable and highly preventable result of all this foot-dragging, and the responsible parties should be held liable.

    Since the current process is so clearly broken – where are the lawsuits on behalf of injured cyclists?

    1. Ballard Resident

      They don’t have deep pockets like SBS&G.

      One day though, someone will die and the city will have to pay. It will be because of Eugene and his buddies.They say they are concerned about safety but as you can see it’s about business costs and free loading on other tax payers by taking public property for their exclusive use. Heck, labor had to threaten to strike to get more pay from them. I wonder if opposition to the trail was part of the final deal. Could explain labor’s recent entry into this legal mess.

      Regardless, it’s public property that the city has a duty to maintain for everyone. It’s an island around residential area. They can’t keep people out.

  17. Richard

    Maybe its time for a new approach. These asshat lawyers tell us these businesses are unsafe, and its clearly an unattractive area. If its impossible for critical public infrastructure to coexist with these businesses, maybe its time to acknowledge their claims – and the fact that it makes this location a blight – and begin imminent domain proceedings.

    Admittedly this is a little bit of hyperbole, but frankly so is the suggestion that their inability to drive safely gives them a right to restrict critical city infrastructure development, so maybe absurd solutions are called for.

  18. Chris Burke

    There is so much room along the Shilshole Ave corridor. The street, the “railroad,” a bike path, and parking could all be fit in there. The Burke Gilman passes close to an asphalt plant in Fremont, and to a concrete plant in Kenmore, with no real problems. It’s so weird that this litigation has been going on so long–my whole life in Seattle. I’m not really expecting it to be cleared up during my biking lifetime. It’s just one of those Seattle phenomena that just keep going on, like the Kalakala or the Mercer Mess.

    Shilshole Ave as it now stands is unsafe and unpleasant to bike down. I usually take Ballard Ave, a quiet tree-lined street with no traffic, then cut over to Leary and down 11th to rejoin the trail. This often allows a trip to Maritime Pacific, which is a nice bonus.

  19. Q

    Go back to the 80s if you care so much about “old ballard”. The world has left you behind and you have no business living or working in Seattle in the 21st century.

    1. Matt

      So you just want to steralize the rest of it? You’re talking about people’s livelihood, you creep. A lot of people visiting this story seem to have little regard for their neighbors. Bumber to see such a cold community.

      1. Richard

        You’re the one clsiming theyre too unsafe, and going to kill someone if allowed to coexist with pedestrians and cyclists. Maybe start consideri g tbe logical conclusion of the argument youre making? Saving a few jobs is NOT worth killing people for. Its ironic that youre calling someone a “creep” and “cold” while at the same time arguing that a business so unsafe as to make killing cyclists & pedestrians inevitable should be allowed to continue, especially in a highly dense urban area. Seems to me claiming its worth letting people die to save a tiny number of jobs is the real cold/creep argument here.

        Its bullshit, of course, and proven so in a dozen or more other places in tbis city alone, but its disturbing that you and these lawyers cant even come up with a morally defensible lie…

      2. Matt

        I’m not claiming the trucks are unsafe, I’m agreeing with local businesses that an increased amount and cyclists funneled through driveways and intersections will cause an increased amount of accidents. It’s very simple concept.

        There are safer and cheaper routes to complete the missing link. Just because it’s a plan that’s been in place for a long time doesn’t mean it’s a good plan.

        And again I want to point out the stretch of tracks under the ballard bridge. I’ve seen tons of cyclists crash even with the new traffic revision. You know, the stretch that traverses the tracks of the working train..

  20. Richard

    “I’m not claiming the trucks are unsafe”

    Oh good, trail fan contine as planned then! Yay!

    Oh wait – “I’m agreeing with local businesses that an increased amount and cyclists funneled through driveways and intersections will cause an increased amount of accidents.”

    Crashes you mean. But in any case, you are not being logically consistent.


    (a) that’s not true (conclusion: build the trail here)

    (b) this is a simple function of numbers, in which case it would apply the same here as anywhere else (conclusion: build the trail here)

    (c) There’s something about these businesses that are unsafe around pedestrians and cyclists (conclusion: either they deal with their safety issues and act as responsible, safe residensts in a dense urban area, after which we’re back to (a) or (b), or they are “inherently” unsafe, in which case the small number of jobs lost are frankly not worth the lives they will inevitably end and destroy.

    You keep trying to doublespeak. Either they are dangerous, or they arent. You cant pretend tbeyre incapable of driving around cyclists and pedestrians, but only if the cyclists and pedestrians are in tbis specific location. They interact with cyclists and pedestrians doze s of times in any given trip. If they cant do so safely, tbeyre unfit. If they can, theres no elevated danger posed by them crossing the trail.

    1. Matt

      No doublespeak here. You’re unhappy with the ruling and trying to spin it as a simple, black and white issue. It is not. Either that, or showing ignorance of phyics, heavy equipment and simple statistics.

      Let me break it down for you. You’re riding your bike at night down a trail that forks. To the left is a nice lit path with with grass on both sides. To the right is a path on the side of a cliff, with twisting corners, but there is a nice guardrail protecting you from falling. Which path is more likely to injure you? Both are maintained by the DOT, but one is certainly going to have a more accidents.

      1. Richard

        Your what if isnt really relevant since there will be interactions with motor vehicles in every possible path. All the alternatives would expose cyclists and pedestrians to more such interactions than this route, and you earlier claimed that these drivers are trained to a higher standard.

        It’s also absurd that youre trying to argue safety with all the overwhelming evidence against that argument. The city concluded this is the best route, several multi million dollar studies have all universally come to the same conclusion, the courts have repeatedly accepted that aspect of the report, an overwhelming public response believes tbis is the best route, similar trail jnteractions have functioned for years with no issue, and hell even the obstructionist asshats have given up on that approach in legal forums (they’re still trying it as the public label for their asshattery, but that legal argument has long since been shut down). Good thing you know better than *EVERYBODY*… But too bad you seem incapable of understanding (or more likely, too obstinate too acknowledge) the implications of your own argument. You and these assists (though im no longer convinced youre actually *not* one of them) absurdly insist having a bike trail will result in the closure of these businesses, but in truth your own argument is much more likely to hage that outcome.

      2. Matt

        Re: “overwhelming public response”
        I’m pretty sure most of this support comes from local bicycle organizations asking cyclists to sign petitions to complete the path, which the answer is obviously going to be “Yeah! Bikes!”. Our neighborhood is obviously under-represented in these statistics.

      3. Richard

        And even more damning to the nonsensical and repeatedly disproven “safety” nonsense – If their trucks crossing the trail is a danger, there’s nothing – short of a tunnel or going underwater – that can possibly avoid that circumstance:


        Even if you accept the silly argument that trucks crossing the trail is “inherently dangerous”, nothing about the alternative does anything to reduce that danger – unless the trucks’ destination is also on Shilshole, to go ANYWHERE else in the city, they will have to cross the trail, period. It really demonstrates the obvious fallacy of this argument, since the alternative that the opponents are so happy about *doesn’t change anything* regarding trucks crossing the trail.

        Makes it really clear that their issue has nothing to do with safety, they just have some bizarre misplaced hatred for cyclists (which is especially misplaced given that cyclists are far from the only users of the bgt) and want to protect their personal little fiefdom (and parking).

        It’s really bizarre to me how people like you, and these businesses, and these lawyers, can funnel SO. MUCH. EFFORT. into feeding their irrational biases.

      4. Matt

        It’s statistics, man. The concept isn’t hard. I’ll continue trying to help you grasp it if you like.

        The study show that the Shilshole route will cross 39 driveways and loading zones, where as the Leary would cross 29. The study also mentions that the trail will continue to cross our active railroad line. It goes on to say there will be substantial modifications to the tracks of our rail line.

        I don’t feel that the study adequately represented us down here. I also feel strongly that it is a much less safe plan then the Leary alternative due to the nature of commercial activity down here. Sure, it’s a shorter stretch. Just not a good plan.

        You keep trying to paint me as one of the bike-hating enemy scum and a trade union guy. I ride a sweet IRO Rob Roy. I’ve ridden with .83 in the past, and had a blast with critical mass and dead baby downhill. I’m not your enemy; just a guy with a different outlook.

        I actually LIVE down here and this impacts me and my neighbors significantly. The new owners of the new condos going in at the Magnum Storage site are already trying to push noise ordinances on our industrial zone. We’re under attack and will continue to fight for an alternative route.

      5. JB

        Matt doesn’t mind if a few hundred more cyclists go to the hospital and some of them leave in body bags, just so long as he gets to keep his cushy union job. Actually, it would be bad enough if they were really looking to protect jobs, but all these people really have at stake is paying maybe a few dollars for parking and adding a few minutes to travel time.

      6. Matt

        I actually do care, quite a lot. I see cyclists wipe out on the tracks under the ballard bridge all the time. Its sucks. I really don’t to see someone get creamed by a dump truck or crane truck.. You’re not going to bounce back from that accident.

      7. Richard

        Its been fun watching you go round and round, repeatjng the same circular arguments based on the same doublespeak and ignoring the same facts over and over.. Oh wait, no it hasn’t.

        Frankly, I don’t care how many times youve been on a bike.
        It’s not your mikes ridden that determine if youre reasonable; your arguments and perspectives speak for themselves. Claiming “no really, I ride bike!” while simultaneously throwing out known flawed arguments in support of continued delays and injuries because you want to preserve your parking spaces is a stance thats harmful and twisted. “I’m not anti-bike, I have bike friends!”

        Another repetetion of the same doublespeak about shroedenger’s trucks being simultaneously safe and dangerous coming up in 3, 2, 1…

      8. Tom Fucoloro

        I feel like what’s going to be said has been said in this argument. I snoozed on moderating personal attacks over the weekend, and I apologize for that.

      9. Matt

        I agree with Tom on this one. I’m just trying to give everyone here the local’s perspective of what’s going on. This trail isn’t the only thing that’s going down on this stretch. Please try to see the bigger picture to understand why we’re upset. I want this trail finished as much as everyone else. Biking in the city is dangerous and I want everyone (myself included!) to be safe.

        Richard: If you are who I think you are, thanks for taking time to debate with me.

      10. Richard

        “Richard: If you are who I think you are, thanks for taking time to debate with me”

        -probably not – im not anyone most people would know or anything. Dont want anyone else to be branded with my abrasiveness :)

      11. Matt

        Well, either way. You gave me some points to think about. See you on the battlefield, and hopefully someday on the missing link.

  21. RideRideRide

    23 miles in the rain this morning, and thankfully this blog doesn’t have a political inch of any sort to screw up my morning ride. I still deal with crappy drivers but at least I don’t have a wanna-be policy wonk with a journalism degree trying to interject their own tainted brand of urban cycling into my daily commute.

    Why don’t you guys listen to what one other poster said, blame the City and this blog for thinking they could push this through with a misguided process. Go ahead and pretend to slay all you want here but Warren and Company have done a far better job of fighting this than us cyclists.

    Now I’ll look forward to my 23 mile ride home w/o all the STB bullshit.

  22. BGT since ’78

    Fuck it. I’m vowing to go out of my way to ride on Shilshole and take the lane. Since I’m now retired and live in Ballard and ride every day, I’ll be going up and down Shilshole a lot. Or I could be riding on the trail, if it could get completed.

    1. Adara

      I wonder about this as well, when drivers get mad about adding bike infrastructure. “Cool, I guess I’ll just slow you down in the ‘car lane’, if that’s what you want…?” Puzzling

  23. https://ballotpedia.org/Sam_Chung

    Looks like we need a challenger to step up in the next election.

  24. mark smith

    I don’t see a compelling reason to build a full cycle track down shilshoal. It’s a bad road with a massive amount of class A and B traffic. Ballard is right there. Use Ballard. Move on. Let the industry wallow in it’s own bad traffic pattern. No need to put bikes through there. Besides, what SANE person is going to bring their kids through a phalanx of truck traffic?

    1. Richard

      The burke Gilman trail is absolutely not a cycle track and a cycle track would fail miserably to serve the purpose of the burke Gilman trail. This discussion would proceed a shitton more effectively if peopele understood that.

      1. mark smith

        Sure, the Burke Gilman isn’t a cycle track. Ok, it it walks like a duck, sinks like a Seattle duck…it’s a duck.

        Call it what you want, most the Burke is cycle focused. But sure, if you foresee this entire conversation about a walking path, I got a monorail to sell ya…

      2. STiK

        Problem with threads such as this, and I’m not talking just cycle paths, is that both sides are usually so hell bent on getting what they want that they can’t see the other sides point of view. Personally, I don’t see how separating the cyclists from traffic makes things more dangerous. I’m more inclined to think that you would end up with more accidents with vehicles entering and leaving the road. In that respect, it’s just a numbers game. More cyclists = greater chance of accidents with traffic entering and leaving the road. Fault is irrelevant, people make mistakes. I don’t care if they are walking or driving a tank. Furthermore, anybody that thinks encountering an occasional fifth wheel on normal streets is the same as dealing with all the heavy trucks and equipment on Shilshole needs their head examined.. The safety concerns are valid but I can’t see how it could be anymore dangerous than it already is. Parking is another issue altogether and they really should make a half ass attempt to address that as well.

      3. Richard

        It walks like a multi use path, with heavy use by both pedestrians and cyclists. It will fail at its purpose if it doesn’t serve ALL relevant modes.

        Inability to see another perspective is one thing, and we should strive to overcome that. But being overtly, factually, objectively incorrect about a fundamental assumption of your argument is a completely different thing, and giving legitimacy to alternative facts is never the right answer.

  25. Mark Smith

    I went and read the lawyers website. I do believe they are misguided in wanting to push walkers and riders onto an arterial road. However, I do believe it’s misguided for the bike lobby aided by the city in pushing this route onto Shilshoal. I wonder why the city, so intent on not building a basic bike route in truly needed areas..yet so intent on spending so much money on this area…. I believe the city has another agenda and cyclists (namely the Cascade club) are willing pawns.

    I believe the unions have this right. This is dumb. Who wants to drag their family down to an area with massive heavy traffic?

    Run it up Ballard and be done with it. Get out of the mindset of “well, we came this far and now we need to double down!”. Ballard it the way to go. Leave the working man alone please.

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