Press Release: King County Superior Court Decision Changes Nothing for Long Term Outlook of Burke-Gilman Missing Link
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: King County Superior Court Decision Changes Nothing for Long Term Outlook of Burke-Gilman Missing Link
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Press release at a glance:
Latest decision pertains to procedural issues with Burke-Gilman Missing Link Environmental Impact Statement (EIS), not the substance of the multi-year EIS.
Trail alignment remains the same. The original EIS received over 4,500 public comments, of which 77 percent of the respondents supported building the Burke-Gilman Trail on the City’s preferred route, Shilshole at-grade, which is the route the City plans to construct.
The City’s recent EIS addendum identifies no adverse economic impacts of trail upon nearby businesses.
Construction currently underway on Market Street is a multi-modal corridor project, including paving and transit improvements. That construction continues.
Completion of the Missing Link is still anticipated by 2021, with some sections completed sooner.
SEATTLE, Wash. July 9, 2019 – Cascade Bicycle Club releases its statement on King County Superior Court Judge’s July 3rd clarifying decision.
The latest decision by Judge Rogoff clarified aspects of a previous decision, but did not identify any new issue with the environmental review of the City’s plans for constructing the Burke-Gilman Missing Link along Shilshole. With a separate legal appeal already set and the City’s issuance of an EIS addendum addressing issues raised in the original Superior Court decision, the July 3 decision may well be rendered moot – underscoring that legal action from the small minority of deep-pocketed individuals who want to stop the trail now focuses exclusively on procedural technicalities, as their substantive complaints have largely failed. This ‘clarifying’ decision doesn’t change the current construction now underway on the Market Street Multi-modal Corridor Project, but may affect the timing of the construction of future phases on trail-specific components.
“Cascade remains committed to completing the Burke-Gilman Missing Link along the route that the majority of the community wants. We don't see this ruling as slowing down the project long-term,” said Richard Smith, Executive Director of Cascade Bicycle Club. “The choice of Shilshole Ave. NW as the route of the Missing Link has been affirmed as the most simple, safe and connected route. This evaluation is one that experts agree on, the community wants, and that we support for just those reasons.”
Many, including Friends of the Burke-Gilman Trail, the Ballard Farmers Market, as well as a host of Ballard landowners and businesses stand together in a commitment to see a trail that is safe and predictable for everyone. During 2017 and 2018 thousands of caring neighbors and businesses 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 Street.
For almost two decades, the process has been held up by a minority of deep-pocketed business owners located on a small section of Shilshole Ave. NW. These individuals have sought to delay the process through extensive legal action and then delay more.
In 2009 and 2012, they demanded that the City conduct an EIS process. After a series of lengthy and costly appeals, the City agreed to draft a full EIS in 2013. Upon the EIS’ publication in May 2017, a small number of parties appealed the EIS. The City of Seattle hearing examiner affirmed the EIS in May 2018. Opponents again appealed on a scatter shot of grounds. Earlier this year, the City undertook and released an additional study of the potential economic impacts of traffic conflicts between trail users and trucks. The study confirmed that the final EIS did not overlook any significant economic impacts on the Shilshole businesses. With no remaining options for delay, the handful of opponents have filed successive motions related to the decision on procedural grounds.
COMMUNITY VOICES SUPPORT COMPLETING THE MISSING LINK ON SHILSHOLE
“My family has lived and worked in the fishing industry in Ballard since the 1920s, and I live on the Burke-Gilman Trail next to the railroad tracks,” said commercial fisherman and Ballard business owner Jim Riggle. “The public safety improvements that will be made when the trail is completed will not just benefit trail users, they will benefit everyone, including those businesses, their drivers and their customers.”
The dangerous Shilshole corridor has suffered from a lack of safety improvements for decades. The results are conditions that from 2014 to 2016 resulted in an average of two Seattle Fire Department emergency responses each month, and untold additional unreported crashes and injuries (Missing Link EIS, Transportation Discipline Report, p. 4-38).
“In August 2014 I crashed on the Ballard Terminal Railroad tracks along the Missing Link and broke my wrist, which has resulted in multiple costly surgeries,” said Jessica Dickinson. “I’ve dealt with chronic pain for two years, and the ongoing care has cost me thousands of dollars out of my own pocket. The experience was traumatic and I avoid the Missing Link at all costs. I can’t understand why others oppose making the Missing Link safer.”
This decision does nothing to change the outcome for this long overdue project. Mayor Durkan has overwhelming support from Ballard businesses and neighbors for this investment in the Ballard neighborhood that will improve freight mobility, safety and access for people walking and biking.