Voice Your Opinion On The Missing Link

The alternatives being considered for the missing Burke Gilman trail segment (City of Seattle)

The alternative routes for the missing link of the Burke-Gilman trail through Ballard are now in the public comment and outreach phase.

A lot of people are skeptical of the entire project ever reaching completion after over a decade of Seattle process work, but now that a full Environmental Impact Study is being conducted, once an alternative is selected and the environmental impact of people on bikes having a clear path through an area they already bike in is determined to be minimal, the last of the bureaucratic hurdles placed by Ballard business owners in the way of a continuous Burke-Gilman from Golden Gardens to Kenmore will have been cleared.

This weekend the Ballard Farmer’s Market rallied its supporters to oppose the routing through Ballard Avenue, even though that alternative is clearly deemed to be the outlier among the four. Ballard Ave increases the number of street crossings, routes the trail though a historic district with a cobblestone street.

The alternatives being considered for the missing Burke Gilman trail segment (City of Seattle)
The alternatives being considered for the missing Burke-Gilman trail segment (City of Seattle)

Even though it comes with a huge 22-foot parking lane, which seems counterintuitive when the real argument was preserving the right-of-way for large vehicles loading in and out of the industrial area, the south Shilshole alternative seems to make the most sense and is the one that everyone thought would be the selected alternative all along.

Shilshole South alternative. Do this.
Shilshole South alternative (City of Seattle)

The important thing to note is that the missing trail here is a public health emergency. Injuries are occurring here on a weekly basis and fixing this should be one of the city’s vision zero priorities. Unfortunately their hands are tied a bit due to the litigation that is being pressed upon them in this corridor.

On July 14th from 6-9pm and July 16th from 10am-1pm at Leif Erikson Hall, 2245 NW 57th St, there will be open houses where you can voice your opinion. Send email comments to BGT_MissingLink_Info@seattle.gov. Northwest Seattle’s long nightmare could be over soon.

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Ryan Packer lives in the Summit Slope neighborhood of Capitol Hill and has been writing for the blog since 2015. They report on multimodal transportation issues, #VisionZero, preservation, and local politics. They believe in using Seattle's history to help attain the vibrant, diverse city that we all wish to inhabit. In December 2020, Ryan started a three-month stint as editor of Seattle Bike Blog.

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It might be interesting to read the EIS for their evaluation of the alternatives vs. the Comprehensive Plan. It turns out that, in their analysis, the trail is an “open space network”, and Ballard Ave is a “high density neighborhood targeted for growth”, so … the two were made for each other! It should be clear to anyone who’s ever been down there on a Friday night, and who has ever been on the Burke Gilman, that a bicycle trail there is bad news for everyone. It looks like they plan for a signal at 17th NW, in the south Shilshole alternative, and that allows pedestrians to escape from the multi-use trail if they’re looking for the Ballard experience.