A New Strategy to Complete the Missing Link

Vicky Clarke

Vicky Clarke

  • Seattle has announced a new design to complete the long-overdue Burke-Gilman Trail “Missing Link”  by 2023.
  • We applaud the city’s effort to end a 20-year legal battle and provide a safe route for biking and walking through the Ballard neighborhood. But it’s not yet a done deal. Voice your support for completing this project--the only gap in the 44-mile Locks to Lakes Corridor.

For 20 years, the fate of the Missing Link has been the subject of judges' decisions. Appeals ping-ponged back and forth, with the City of Seattle and Cascade Bicycle Club on one side, a handful of deep-pocketed business interests on the other. Until now. 

This week, Seattle announced a simplified design that side-steps processes that have stalled construction and tied up Cascade and the city in pointless and costly legal fights over technicalities. By narrowing the trail slightly, the city believes it can avoid the SEPA environmental review that required the detailed Environmental Impact Statement the city undertook in 2015 and has been defending ever since. By altering the design to avoid moving the railroad lines under the Ballard Bridge the city doesn’t have to do a dance with the Federal railroad authority. 

Simple, right? 

If we’ve learned anything from the last two decades of advocating for completion of the Missing Link, with deep pocketed opponents, nothing is simple. And with new blood at City Hall coming in 2022, it’s as important as ever that we be vigilant and ready to demonstrate that the community wants to complete the trail along Shilshole Ave NW. 

Without hearing community support (yet again) for the trail along the long-planned for Shilshole route, council members or the mayor-elect might be tempted to back-burner this urgent, long-overdue safety project. Tell Leaders: Complete the Burke-Gilman Trail, once and for all!

The choice of Shilshole Avenue 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. 

The cynics among us might feel like we’ve heard this optimism before--without results. But the fact is, the Missing Link has already been hung up in court for years, with no end in sight. It’s time to try something new. 

Take action now to show your support for completing the Burke-Gilman Trail to help ensure this plan sticks, and we stay on track for a BIG community celebration in 2023. 

Lee Lambert, Cascade Bicycle Club Executive Director. 

“It’s past time to complete the Burke-Gilman Missing Link, and we support the city’s proposed redesign along Shilshole Ave NW. Completing the Missing Link along the Shilshole route makes sense: It’s the most simple, safe and connected route that has won the overwhelming public support of people walking and biking over the last two decades. 

“Since 2008, caring neighbors have shown their devotion to closing the gap in the Missing Link, only to face delays in the form of crippling lawsuits. During that time, countless people have been unnecessarily injured on the Missing Link. This design reflects their desires for a safe, simple and connected trail. Seventy-seven percent of the 4,500 respondents to the City’s planning process said they want to complete the trail along Shilshole Ave. NW. The redesign announced today is a pragmatic solution for completing the Missing Link. We thank city leaders and staff for their perseverance and creativity. 

“Completing the Missing Link will be a major milestone that allows people to safely ride 44 miles on connected, separated trails from Golden Gardens to the foothills of the Cascades on the Locks to Lakes Corridor.” 

Seattle Mayor Jenny Durkan

“Completing the Burke-Gilman Trail missing link is an important and too long delayed piece of safety infrastructure in Seattle. By redesigning the missing link we will finally be able to give the bike, walking and rolling community a safe route to enjoy the treasure that is the Burke-Gilman trail. After continued legal challenges, these next steps will bring us tangibly closer to finishing this crucial project.”

​​Kevin Carabine, Friends of Burke Gilman Trail 

“Trail supporters, including many of my fellow Ballard residents, are excited about this plan. Creating safe, simple, and connected access for trail users of all ages and abilities to Ballard businesses is a dream come true. The plan, which improves safety for all travel modes, also aligns perfectly with the City’s Vision Zero goals.”

Davidya Kasperzyk, Burke GilmanTrail Missing Link Design Advisory Committee Member

“For 20 years I have pursued the development of a balanced and safe connective design for the completion of the regional Burke Gilman Trail Missing Link.  As Design and Planning Principal of the 2001 of “The Missing Link Study” for the Friends of the Burke Gilman Trail, and through 3 successive City of Seattle efforts to work with all interests along the corridor the goal has been the same.  Safety and completion of this essential regional project.

In my final role as a participant with the Design Advisory Committee (DAC - 2017 - 2019) we used international and local design consultants to refine every design decision with the Seattle Department of Transportation Design Team to align with the key principles of our Design Charter.  These were - safety and predictability for all users, maintain access to commercial and industrial uses, connectivity to the existing bike/ped network, and accessibility and comfort for the greatest diversity of users. It is time to deliver this critical infrastructure to the people of Seattle.”

Mark Durall, Olympic Athletic Club, Hotel Ballard & Ballard Inn General Manager 

“The public and the vast majority of local businesses have supported completing the “Missing-Link” of the Burke-Gilman Trail in Ballard for nearly 20 years. The Burke-Gilman Trail is a multiuse trail for people of all abilities to walk, jog, run, bike, etc. It’s not just for cyclists. People don’t just walk and bike for health and recreation; they also walk and bike for transportation. Combined with SDOT’s current plan to increase bus transportation on Leary Avenue NW with the Route 40 Transit Plus Multimodal Corridor project, the transportation options for residents, workers, and visitors to and from Ballard will increase significantly, benefiting residents and businesses alike.”


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