‘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.

Tonight: last chance to weigh in on Burke-Gilman Missing Link designs

Tonight (Thursday, Sept. 28) is one of the final design meetings for the Burke-Gilman Missing Link project. The meeting will be held at the Ballard Eagleson VFW (2812 NW Market St) from 4:30 to 6:30 pm. The workshop will include an updated design of the corridor and will provide for a check-in with community members for feedback, as the design team is working to finalize plans for the project.

There have been a few changes to the design plans, including reducing the number of parking spots that would be eliminated with the trail construction. The original plans had estimated that 344 parking spots would be lost, but the Seattle Bike Blog reports that the design team was able to fit in 186 more parking spots in the updated design.

“While the number of parking spaces is certainly not Seattle Bike Blog’s biggest concern with this project, the work to add spaces back is an example of how this community design process works,” Tom Fucoloro from the Seattle Bike Blog reports. “Parking was a big concern by many people opposed to the project. This is what compromise looks like in action.”

Fucoloro said one of the trickiest elements of the design will be the corner of NW Market St and 24th Ave NW, where they are suggesting a “mixing zone”.


The trail has many mixed corners already (Stone Way, 15th Ave NE, the Ave, 20th Ave NE, etc), but this one will be a little different because the trail can continue through while people on foot are waiting to cross the street. In most of the other examples, people on the sidewalks and trail users are all stopped at the same time. In this case, trail users will have to make their way through people who are waiting.

I don’t think this is an impossible situation, but it’s going to be especially necessary for trail users to be patient and yield to people on foot.

While design plans are ticking along, the lawsuit to delay the project is ongoing. According to Seattle Bike Blog, there’s a hearing is scheduled for Oct. 16. In the meantime, there will be another public meeting and a self-guided walking tour in October; we’ll update with more details when they become available.

For information about tonight’s meeting, visit the City of Seattle’s Missing Link website.

Weigh in on Missing Link design plans on Thursday

On Thursday, July 13 from 5-8pm there will be a community meeting to discuss design plans for the Burke-Gilman Missing Link project.

“We want to hear your ideas,” the organizers from the Seattle Department of Transportation (SDOT) say. “Join project design staff at an in-person event to help us better understand local conditions, opportunities, and challenges along the preferred alignment of the Missing Link.”

The meeting is at the Ballard Eagles VFW at 2812 NW Market St. If you can’t make to the meeting, there’s an opportunity weigh in online.

The final design and permitting are expected to be completed in early 2018, with construction to follow soon thereafter. To stay updated, visit SDOT’s Missing Link webpage.

Photo courtesy SDOT

Missing Link update: design underway, community meetings scheduled

The Missing Link completion project is underway, with the city conducting detailed design plans and scheduling public meetings to meet with the community and business owners about progress.

In February, city leaders, trail supporters, and the business community announced that an agreement had been made to complete the trail, which will run along NW Market Street between the Ballard Locks and 24th Ave NW, then turn onto the south side of Shilshole Ave NW. There will also be improvements to the existing trial east of the Ballard Bridge along NW 45th St.

In May, a Final Environmental Impact Statement (FEIS) was released; there’s a printed copy at Ballard Library for public review and comment. It’s possible to appeal, however, according to the Cascade Bicycle Club, it’s typically difficult to challenge a FEIS. Kelsey Mesher from Cascade wrote in a recent blog post that the club and other stakeholders have begun forming a collective Design Advisory Council (DAC) to look at the proposed trail block-by-block in order to ensure that the final design, “prioritizes safety of all who use the corridor, and preserves access to water-dependent businesses and adjacent buildings.” The DAC has outlined, “an aggressive schedule” to keep the project on track in order to start construction in 2018.

In the meantime, the city is planning public meetings to address concerns and keep people informed. The workshops will be trail-segment specific (see this flyer):

  • Segment 1 (Ballard Locks to 24th Ave NW): Tuesday, June 27, 3-6pm at Ballard VFW (2812 NW Market St)
  • Segment 2 (Shilshole Ave NW): Thursday, June 29, 3-6pm at Ballard VFW (2812 NW Market St)
  • Segment 3 (NW 45th St): Tuesday, July 11, 3-6pm, Seattle Maritime Academy, Maritime Classroom (4455 Shilshole Ave NW)
  • Public meeting at Ballard VFW on July 13; more details to come.

The city’s timeline for trail completion is detailed above, indicating they expect it to be completed in the winter of 2018/2019.

For more information and to stay up-to-date with the project, visit the city’s Burke-Gilman Trail Missing Link Project page.

All graphics courtesy Seattle Department of Transportation

Framework agreement reached, completion of Burke-Gilman Missing Link to move forward

Earlier today, Mayor Ed Murray along with Councilmembers Mike O’Brien and Rob Johnson, Ballard business owners, and bicycle and pedestrian advocates, announced that a framework agreement has been reached to move forward on completing the “missing link” of the Burke-Gilman Trail.

“After years of disagreement, we have a path forward to finally complete the ‘missing link’ of the Burke-Gilman Trail,” says Mayor Murray. “Bicyclists and pedestrians will no longer need to weave, dodge, or hold their breath while navigating through Ballard and maritime businesses along the water will maintain access to the roads they depend on. Today’s announcement highlights our collaborative effort to complete the trail, making the Burke-Gilman safer and more accessible for all.”

As the City finishes the environmental review process, the framework calls for stakeholders to work together on the design elements of a preferred alternative route that would complete the “missing link” with a marked, dedicated trail for pedestrians and cyclists.

The proposed trail would run along Market Street between the Ballard Locks and 24th Ave NW, then turn on to Shilshole Ave NW Northwest and run along the south-side of the street. The existing trail east of the Ballard Bridge, along NW 45th St, will be improved to allow for better access for businesses and safer travel for bicyclists and pedestrians. The City expects the final environmental impact study to be released in May.

“The community has been working on a safe completion of the missing link of the Burke Gilman Trail for years and it is great to be moving one step closer to construction,” says Councilmember Mike O’Brien.

“To say we are elated is a vast understatement,” says Blake Trask, Senior Policy Director of the Cascade Bicycle Club. “This project will benefit generations. We are grateful to the many parties, including local Ballard businesses, for coming together, listening to one another, and committing to building a trail that is safe and predictable for everyone.”