The Missing Link reaches a major design milestone

As a result of stakeholder collaboration, the Missing Link is much more than a trail project.

There’s a reason the city of Seattle brought diverse stakeholders together to form a Missing Link Design Advisory Committee (DAC) — it works. The group has met frequently over the last several months; walked the corridor to identify areas of concern; and engaged in discussion to ensure the needs of all will be addressed.

The DAC process was used during the contentious planning and design of the Westlake protected bike lane project. The Seattle Times lauded this model process in 2014, recommending that it be repeated for future projects involving many diverse interests. Now, on the final Missing Link of the Burke-Gilman Trail, maritime, neighborhood, business and community representatives are working hard to hear the challenges and opportunities that remain along the entire corridor of this multi-use trail project.

Based on all this input, the Seattle Department of Transportation (SDOT) project managers have developed a 30% design that addresses all kinds of issues, from parking management to freight mobility, and of course, a safe, direct and connected multi-use trail.

Here’s a quick summary of improvements we can expect to see from the Missing Link project:

  • Safe and separated trail for biking, walking, rolling and strolling — In addition to creating a designated place for trail users through Ballard, the project will realign the railroad tracks and direct people biking across at a predictable 90-degree angle.

  • Improved mobility for truck drivers — New traffic signals included in the Shilshole Avenue design will help create breaks in traffic that allow truck drivers more time to make safe turning movements. The 30% design also features intersection designs that cater to large truck turn movements. These improvements have the potential to make travel more predictable for everyone, especially when compared to the status quo which is challenging for drivers of cars and trucks, as well as those walking and biking.

  • Parking progress moves forward — Many of the opportunities to manage parking will be addressed in later design stages, but SDOT planners have already found solutions to preserve more than half of the parking loss estimated by the Final Environmental Impact Statement (EIS). This trend of addressing neighborhood parking concerns while improving parking utility for businesses and customers occurred during the Westlake design process, too, where ultimately 92% of parking was preserved and the utility of that parking was improved over the previous conditions.

  • More environmentally-friendly stormwater solutions — A little known element of the multi-use trail is that stormwater impacted by the trail development will be managed. Additionally, interdepartmental coordination between SDOT and Seattle Public Utilities is ongoing.

While there is no set definition of design milestones, 30% is generally considered the point at which the conceptual design is complete. This means there are still a number of improvements and opportunities left to explore in the design process.

As the project moves to the 60% design milestone, additional improvements will be necessary to address new input; and that is already happening through listening sessions and workshops on specific segment issues. The DAC will continue to meet and refine the design in partnership with SDOT. The aim is to achieve this next design milestone by mid-September, with goals of breaking ground for construction in early 2018.

Kelsey Mesher's picture
Kelsey Mesher