‘Missing Link’ debate still rages, hearings underway this week


The Missing Link route as approved by the city

Since the early days of My Ballard, we’ve covered the debate around the Missing Link: a proposal to close the 1.4 mile gap in the Burke-Gilman Trail.

The core issues remain the same over the years: Many cyclists want the route along Shilshole Ave., where they’re riding anyway, navigating over perilous railroad tracks. Several businesses in the area, called the Ballard Coalition, want cyclists to take Leary and Market, a slightly longer route that avoids the many trucks that drive through the industrial area.

The Seattle Department of Transportation signed off on the Shilshole Ave. route, sparking an outcry from the Ballard Coalition and a legal appeal challenging the city’s environmental impact statement. That appeal is being heard this week before Seattle Hearing Examiner Sue Tanner.

A decision — perhaps a final decision? — is expected by the end of the year. The city hopes to begin construction early next year.

For a deeper look at the controversy, Crosscut has a great update here.

25 comments on “‘Missing Link’ debate still rages, hearings underway this week”

  1. The trail really should be built on the rail right of way on 54th, not on Market.

  2. The South Shilshole proposal WILL cause a cyclist’s death. Some cyclist will be travelling at a high speed and crash into a concrete mixer that is waiting to pull out of its driveway onto Shilshole. It will be the cyclist’s fault, but will be traumatic for everyone.

    The city should be working to preserve its working waterfront, not creating liability and barriers for employers of some of the few remaining living wage jobs in Ballard. And for the folks looking for parking on Sundays during the market, good luck! No more parking two to four cars deep along Shilshole.

    This wrong-headed push for the Shilshole option is being headed by hospitality groups along Ballard Ave. They are no doubt afraid that the most sensible option would prevail: close Ballard Ave to through traffic (deliveries are fine), use 1/3 of the street for the bike path and the rest for use by local businesses and the farmers market.

  3. It would be nice to have more pleasure boats down thataways anyway. A bike path is an excellent way to “clean” up Ballard. Those cyclists, afterall, have nice high paying jobs that allow them to cycle to work, shower, and then sit at a desk all day. No tools to carry to work when you have two wheels!

    Plus cyclists are green. Like our money. Who are all these people in they F150s?

  4. As a daily bike commuter along the missing link, I am exposed to a far greater risk of injury without a protected bike lane on this stretch of Shilshole (and also Market St.). If anyone, it is the Ballard Coalition that will have blood on its hands for drawing out this process and continuing to leave cyclists exposed on Shilshole, not those who have put forward this sensible and lifesaving proposal to protect the numerous people on bikes on Shilshole from automobile traffic. Their inability to work with the city to make Shilshole safer will engender a good deal of ill will toward them by the people of Ballard.

  5. So, if the route goes a block to the north instead of where it should be run, just how will the cement mixers get out of the area without crossing the trail? Did you know that they cross the trail twice, just to the east where the trail is established. They have a yard there where they dump their excess cement and clean the trucks. Have to cross the trail in both directions. Then, there is their storage yard near the Ballard Fred Meyer. Yup, gotta cross the trail then too. So really, this is so much bullshit. The current riding situation is very dangerous, and it will be much safer on the real trail. Even the joke of a Ballard Railway can keep their tracks and we can still build the trail. Did you know the Ballard Railway sued to stop the Lake Sammamish Trail too?

  6. It would be nice to own additional pleasure boats down that aways anyway. a motorcycle path is a wonderful thanks to “clean” up Ballard. Those cyclists, after all, have nice high paying jobs that permit them to cycle to figure, shower, then sit at a table all day.

  7. @”Live and Work Here”:

    “The South Shilshole proposal WILL cause a cyclist’s death. Some cyclist will be travelling at a high speed and crash into a concrete mixer that is waiting to pull out of its driveway onto Shilshole. It will be the cyclist’s fault, but will be traumatic for everyone.”

    Sorry Bub, but there’s an almost identical stretch of the Burke-Gilman, just a mile to the east, INCLUDING a lot that cement trucks come and go from during peak trail hours. 40 years later, they and all those other businesses seem to be doing fine. Stop crying wolf.

    Also, your anecdote about the biker crashing into a large dump truck at full speed: ignoring the fact that the biker didn’t see a large, orange dump truck, sitting in the middle of the trail, with enough time to stop, why was the dump truck illegally blocking the trail to begin with? Seems like the dump truck driver would be at fault, no matter how stupid the biker wasto crash full speed like that.

  8. @”TRUTH”:

    Explain how being in an existing driveway, which is connects your property (where your concrete mixed is barged in on the canal) to the public street, is illegally blocking a new trail? I live on the south side of Shilshole; are you telling me getting to and from my home is illegal now?

    I walk all over Ballard, and the SBS&G employees are the nicest, most polite folks I have bumped into. They actually do care about folks and the neighborhood. They don’t want to cause any injuries.

    @”Bruce”: The other locations along the existing path where the concrete trucks pass are MUCH less travelled than Shilshole. Shilshole is a major thoroughfare. Especially during rush hour, it can take quite a while to be able to safely turn onto Shilshole.

    I’m not anti bike path. I gave away my bike when I moved into the city proper because it is scary. I use the current trail frequently for walking. The current situation is dangerous. I just think south Shilshole is the most dangerous option for the Missing Link.

    Aside from the safety, which should be the first concern, I am concerned about maintaining our working waterfront. Many of the businesses along that stretch of Shilshole have been in those locations for longer than most of us have been alive. The area is supposed to be zoned for maritime-related use, so why make it unattractive and difficult for these businesses to remain?

  9. MyBallard blog, your days of supporting this constant delaying and appearing on the wrong side of history will not be kind to you. It’s like watching Fox News on this topic. Completely ignoring the Seattle Times article this morning mentioning the 30 years -THIRTY YEARS- this discussion has taken is partly your fault. Accepting the bribes to claim this “will harm business” is the equivalent of the antivaxers claiming vaccines harm more than they help. On any street in the City a bike going too fast crashing into ANYTHING can cause serious problems.

  10. It would help if these spandex warriors weren’t such insufferable a$$holes.

  11. “no matter how stupid the biker”

    Apparently we still don’t know the answer to that one yet. Judging by the moron I saw cycling down the middle of a lane on 15th ave this morning, in the dark and rain with no lights and traveling slower than the traffic (which is illegal), the well of stupidity is quite deep.

  12. @Live and Work Here:

    A driveway is an easement, permitted by the City, to provide access to your property, from the public street, across public right-of-way. It is not YOUR property until it gets to YOUR property line. Where the driveway exists on public ROW, you follow the law, which in this case would be not stopping on a through route (the future Missing Link) and yielding to cyclists (depending on which way the yield/stop signs are facing). If they don’t like those laws, then they are free to demolish their driveways. Now THAT would be bad for their business.

    “I walk all over Ballard, and the SBS&G employees are the nicest, most polite folks I have bumped into. They actually do care about folks and the neighborhood. They don’t want to cause any injuries.”

    HAHAHAHA. If they care about folks and the neighborhood, they don’t show it publicly. They had their chance to show it, but all they did was sue, sue, sue, causing taxpayers MILLIONS and harming many cyclists in the meantime. The City negotiated the god-awful Market reroute, instead of 54th, where it should be, to the benefit of the Obstructionists and detriment to Seattle Residents and Taxpayers. The Obstructionists then sued AGAIN.

    It’s time. Build the Missing Link, the way it should be. Residents have overwhelmingly spoken that it should go down Shilshole and 54th, on PUBLICLY OWNED LAND. Again, the BGT has coexisted with the Frelard industrial business for 40 years, with no problems. If a freaking trail is enough to cause a business to go belly up, they have a terrible business model. If the Ballard industrial businesses can’t coexist with a growing city, then they can pack up and leave and give another business a chance that can.

    And anyways, given the chance, the owners (of which one is possibly you?) of these businesses will push to rezone the area and sell their land for tens of millions of dollars to waterfront condo developers.

  13. @truth YES! Brilliant. Do you recommend any organizations for more public advocacy of the trail? Sick and tired of putting my life on the line in order to get to work on a bike.

  14. @Ballard Green’s comment “It would be nice to have more pleasure boats down thataways anyway. A bike path is an excellent way to “clean” up Ballard. Those cyclists, afterall, have nice high paying jobs that allow them to cycle to work, shower, and then sit at a desk all day. No tools to carry to work when you have two wheels!

    Plus cyclists are green. Like our money. Who are all these people in they F150s?”

    These statements show how narrow minded people of Ballard have become. No consideration for industry folks, the people that have to drive their F150s from way outside Seattle to work on that street OR the patrons of the area (driving for 20 min to find any parking so the businesses will have customers.)
    That street is used by more than Amazon employees who make $$$$ to live close to work to bike.
    Shame on you.

  15. @FREE BALLARD:

    You realize that “Ballard Green” is an anti-trail troll that you just fed, right?

    “That street is used by more than Amazon employees who make $$$$ to live close to work to bike.”

    It’s also used by me, a long time Ballard working stiff (no Amazon or techie job here), who commutes via bike to downtown, because parking is close to $400/month. Last I checked, most of these businesses have plenty room to provide parking (free or paid) to their workers, but instead the public is subsidizing their free parking. Please explain why a worker’s free parking at work should usurp my safety while biking TO work.

  16. This dispute is absolutely not about safety, it’s about those businesses protecting their interests at the expense of their neighbors who ride bikes. I’ve been riding that trail every day for 15 years. Not to a high-paid tech job, but just to get to work and then back home without getting caught in traffic. I would much rather deal with a few well-planned crossings in an industrial zone than to cross a commuter-clogged road twice. The route they are proposing is less safe, and it’s not building any goodwill for them to keep pushing this selfish agenda. I hope Ballard’s industrial businesses and cyclists can both survive the changes happening in our neighborhood.

  17. This has always been about parking.

    Are the employees of these businesses that lazy that they need to park their cars right outside the workplace instead of walking a few blocks like the rest of us?

    The Ballard Chamber of Commerce/ Ballard Business Alliance, Ballard Obstructionists, whatever you want to call them are clearly not interested in creating a safer environment.

  18. If safety is the paramount concern then Shilshole is the answer. The reason most cyclists (including my family) choose Shilshole is because the professional drivers at SBS&G are much safer alternative than the impatient
    nimnods barreling along Leary and in and out of Fred Meyer. The entrance to FM is the place where I have been almost hit most often – even though FM was magnanimous enough to build the link. Ironic. It is too bad that SBS&G can’t be a better neighbor as they are an important part of the Ballard community. Sad.

  19. The yuppies around here have some rose colored glasses. As in most of the now deindustrialized US, development pressures on Seattle industrial maritime land have been relentless–Amazon and Vulcan are just the latest protagonists. The Puget Sound Business Journal identified the Ballard/Interbay Industrial area as the biggest real estate development opportunity on the West Coast.

    Fishermen’s Terminal was only saved from gentrification after a ten year civic fight. Take a look at the gleaming yacht harbor for billionaires on the south side of the Ship Canal which replaced Marco ship construction. It’s now an economic cemetery.

    Working waterfront is destroyed by the death of a thousand cuts. You don’t mix trucks with bikes if you’re concerned with maintaining the Seattle fishing fleet. The two fuel docks for the entire Seattle fleet are located off Shilshole Avenue. Knock those dominoes down and many more will fall. If you care about working class jobs in our city you should restrain gentrification and find a solution that works for everyone.

  20. @Dead Fisherman:

    You’re to tell me that these fisherman brave Alaskan water during storms that kill to bring back seafood, but they can’t handle bicycles? Most fishermen I know would beat the tar out of you for even suggesting that.

  21. @Dead Fisherman:

    If SBS&G and friends had not chosen to die on the hill of a bike lane, they could have counted on a large contingent of Ballard (like the 85% of commenters that spoke out in favor of the trail) to work with them to protect the working waterfront against those far more significant economic threats you mentioned, threats which also impact the lives of most people cycling along the missing link (of which probably 1% actually commute all the way to SLU to Amazon). Instead SBS&G and friends are squandering their limited political capital on a short-sighted decision not in anyone’s interest but their own. It makes me, an SEIU member, pity the brothers and sisters there for having such poor leadership. As @truth wrote, “the BGT has coexisted with the Frelard industrial business for 40 years, with no problems. If a freaking trail is enough to cause a business to go belly up, they have a terrible business model.” The Ballard Coalition needs to go back to the drawing board to figure out how to keep Shilshole sustainable. At this point the only picket line I’ll be joining is the one that blocks your entrances when you try to waste even more public resources with your unfounded lawsuits.

  22. Paralysis by analysis. In oh so typical Seattle fashion, we have to bitch and moan, then do little to nothing, except piss people off, and divide. Kicking THIS can down the road is so much fun though! I did get a LOL from these daring folks demanding this and that while resisting a simple “pay form play” plan. Money talks, always has. I defy death every week, I go up ladders. Deal with it.

  23. Years ago when I rode a bike, I fell somewhere in the missing link area when my tire went sideways along a railroad track. I was new at biking, and I was searching for the Burke-Gilman trail, which had suddenly simply disappeared.
    I was new at falling, too; the gash just below my knee was bleeding down my leg and into my sock. I hobbled to the nearest business and asked if I could clean myself up in their restroom. An employee turned me away. He said his employer didn’t like cyclists, and he would be risking his job.
    I had never heard about the controversy up till that moment. I was a bit shocked. I have always relied on the kindness of strangers.

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