After nearly 10 years of stalled improvements due to ongoing litigation, the city of Seattle will conduct a complete Environmental Impact Study (EIS) for the project to complete the missing link of the Burke-Gilman Trail in Ballard. Seattle Mayor Mike McGinn joined City Councilmember Tom Rasmussen, Seattle Department of Transportation (SDOT) officials and Davidya Kasperzyk of the Friends of Burke-Gilman Trail in Ballard today to discuss the details of the EIS and other road safety improvements that will made in the interim.
“We’re going to study, right now, everything we can study. We think that’s the most effective way to get to the end of the legal challenges,” McGinn said. “Once that study is complete, we can move forward with construction.” However, McGinn points out that the completed EIS will likely invite another legal challenge. He said he expects at least another 2 to 3 years before the legal issues and construction are complete.
“That delay is unacceptable to the safety of the people using the trail today. This corridor, from Fred Meyer to the Ballard Locks, is one of the highest accident corridors in the city. It’s one of the least safe places to ride a bicycle, but it’s one of the most heavily used places to ride a bicycle,” McGinn said.
The city plans to implement a number of improvements to the roadway between the Locks and the Fred Meyer over the next year, including the following:
- Advisory bicycle lanes on NW 45th Street and other safety improvements on that section of roadway
- Installation of striping and signage to create a traffic island and a 4-way stop at Ballard Avenue NW and 17th Avenue NW
- Striping and signage at NW 48th Street and Ballard Avenue NW to improve vehicular line of sight and slow speeds.
- Shoulder maintenance and replacement along degraded sections of the shoulder along Shilshole Avenue NW.
- Installation of a curb ramp to allow bicycles access to the sidewalk to queue for the existing bike lane headed north on 24th Avenue NW at the intersection of Shilshole Avenue NW / 24th Avenue NW and NW Market Street. Current conditions provide very limited queuing space for bicycles.
Kasperzyk of the Friends of Burke-Gilman Trail said that safety has always been the original concept for the completion. “There have been a lot of accidents, a lot of hurt people around here. One of the main things we hear from people, especially our younger members as more and more people are coming to Ballard and being part of this residential community, is ‘Dude, where’s our trail?'”
The EIS will cost $300,000 and will be completed within six to nine months, according to SDOT. The study will begin in a few months, and McGinn added that comments from the public are welcome.