Updated: King County Superior Court Judge Jim Rogers has ruled that the city must perform an environmental study before a decision can be made to complete the missing link of the Burke Gilman Trail.
Although Judge Rogers ruled in favor of the city on a majority of the issues raised in the suit, he sent the project back to the Seattle Department of Transportation for review because a 5-block section between 17th Ave NW & NW Vernon was not studied under the State Environmental Policy Act (SEPA). It’s unclear how long this study will take.
“We’re really disappointed… It could be years, not to mention the 800 or 900 people who will be injured on the tracks during that time,” said David Hiller with the Cascade Bicycle Club. He spoke with MyBallard in the courtroom moments after the judge’s decision.
Hiller believes Cascade will now push for the permanent route to be built as soon as possible, that the evaluation of alternative routes be dropped, and that the trail go straight up Shilshole.
In July 2009, a coalition of Ballard industrial businesses, associations and the Ballard Chamber of Commerce filed a lawsuit with the Superior Court challenging the city’s plans to complete the Burke Gilman trail. Specifically, the lawsuit questions the city’s environmental review of the project. Among the concerns were safety and parking.
Josh Brower, one of the attorneys for plaintiffs, also spoke with MyBallard at the courthouse.
“Our clients aren’t anti-trail, they’re not anti-bike. We want a safe trail that allows people to get through this area without undermining maritime viability.”
No final decision can be made on the completion of the missing link until the environmental review on the stretch of the trail from 17th Ave NW to NW Vernon has been conducted.
(We updated this story to clarify that the judge ordered an environmental study, not a full Environmental Impact Statement.)