Missing Link: New Year, New Trail

With an almost-completed design, the Burke-Gilman Trail’s Missing Link is much more than a trail project. Whether you bike, walk, drive a truck or a car, a completed Missing Link will improve how people get around Ballard. We need all hands on deck this month to ensure we capitalize on this exciting chance to complete the trail, nearly two decades in the making.

Extensive public outreach has improved design elements for all. Photo credit: Seattle Department of Transportation.

In January, two important milestones to complete the Missing Link of the Burke-Gilman Trail through Ballard are expected. First, following the December rollout of the 90% design by the multistakeholder Design Advisory Committee, the Seattle Department of Transportation project team is making additional refinements to prepare the project for bid and construction.

Second, a decision on the appeal of the adequacy of the Missing Link Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) is expected around the end of this month. In June 2017, Cascade (with the pro bono support of Stoel Rives) joined the City of Seattle as an intervenor to defend the adequacy of the EIS for the Missing Link. After a summer and fall filled with time-intensive document discovery and pre-hearing briefing for the appeal, the Seattle Hearing Examiner’s evidentiary hearing lasted six days in late November and early December. The City of Seattle provided strong testimony featuring economic, environmental, transportation, and land use experts, as well as national expert witness Bill Schultheiss from Toole Design Group, to present on the adequacy of the EIS. In addition, a Cascade representative testified to describe current unsafe conditions that people walking and biking experience every day along the Missing Link corridor.

While the Burke-Gilman Trail forms part of an iconic regional trail connection between the Puget Sound and the Cascade Mountains, the Missing Link is very much a part of creating a better Ballard. Locals know this, which is why thousands of caring neighbors and involved businesses have worked for so long to see the project’s completion. Because diverse stakeholders from across the neighborhood have added their knowledge and experience to the design process, the Missing Link is shaping up to become a neighborhood investment for all.

The project improves the existing conditions in Ballard. More than a bicycle trial, or a multi-use trail, the project now is a corridor project that:

  • improves predictability for everyone, by providing a clear route for people walking and biking through Ballard and to Golden Gardens and Fremont,
  • improves freight access through a combination of driveway improvements and traffic signal installations that facilitate better mobility for goods and services,
  • fixes dangerous railroad crossings, including the infamous segment under the Ballard Bridge, and
  • moves people through challenging intersections — like 24th Ave NW and Market, as well as 17th Ave NW and Shilshole Ave NW — faster by improving the “level of service” for motor vehicles at these intersections.

24th and Market provides better mobility, including extended bike lanes on 24th Ave. NW, as well as many intersection improvements. Click for an enlarged version of the above map.

All of these benefits have been improved by a robust stakeholder involvement process that sought to include any and all members of the community.

It’s exciting progress, but we’re not done until the construction shovels hit the ground.

That’s why your involvement this month is critical. With new leadership at the city, it’s all the more important to show you and many caring neighbors and businesses want a completed Missing Link in 2018.

There are three ways you can make a difference this month:

1. Attend happy hour with Councilmember Mike O'Brien, Cascade and a host of community groups at Peddler Brewing on Wednesday, January 17 from 5:30-7:30 p.m. Learn about design updates; connect with friends; and help make a statement that there is widespread support for moving forward. The original organizers who got the Burke-Gilman Trail built nearly 50 years ago will be there too!

2. If you can't make it January 17, voice your support to Mayor Durkan. Use this handy tool to send a message or make a phone call -- remember to keep it positive! 

3. Testify in support of the trail at the Seattle City Council Transportation committee meeting on January 19 at 2 p.m. Let us know if you can attend so we can connect beforehand!

Together we can make a better Ballard happen. Join us to make 2018 the year Ballard completed the Missing Link!

Blake Trask's picture
Blake Trask