Another appeal filed over the ‘Missing Link’

Updated:Another appeal has been filed over the “missing link” of the Burke-Gilman trail. Last month the Seattle Department of Transportation released the environmental review, which was ordered last year by King County Superior Court Judge Jim Rogers. SDOT concluded that the “missing link” will “not have a probable significant adverse impact on the environment.”

Our news partner, The Seattle Times, is reporting that marine and trade interests have joined to form Ballard Business Appellants to appeal the decision. The Ballard Chamber of Commerce is not part of the latest appeal.

Proposed route for the Burke Gilman “missing link” is the solid green line

“This is about safety,” Josh Brower, an attorney representing the trade group told the Times. “My clients … are asking the city to study this issue and prove this trail design and location are safe, not just continue saying the trail is safe.”

The appeal isn’t a surprise to SDOT. When the Revised SEPA Determination of Non-Significance (.pdf) was released in February, Rick Sheridan told us they expected an appeal. He told us then that any appeal would delay the call out for bids and construction.

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. (Disclosure: MyBallard is a member of the Ballard Chamber of Commerce.)

Earlier: Background on the debate surrounding the missing link

Geeky Swedes

The founders of My Ballard

30 thoughts to “Another appeal filed over the ‘Missing Link’”

  1. This fight bores me. Give it up already, chamber and “friends”. You lost, pedal people have won every time, so get over yourselves. If a bike trail ruins any business, it clearly wasn’t too stable to begin with. Or keep wasting your money… your loss. Maybe you need to get some fresh air on a nice new bike path.

  2. by the time this trail is finished, my great-great-great grandson will finally be able to ride his hover-bike past the former concrete company which will have been converted to some sweet condos right on the canal.

  3. The Times article says this latest appeal is by the Ballard Business Appellants, a “newly formed trade group,” and doesn’t mention the Ballard Chamber, so I was hoping they had dropped out of this latest delaying action. I assume since the MyBallard is a member, this is accurate in stating that the Chamber is still involved, though that second paragraph is confusing, as are the statements on the chamber’s website. Who exactly is appealing this latest environmental study? And as a member, does MyBallard support the Chamber’s actions?

  4. I don’t understand the Chamber of Commerce’s involvement in the appeals. Don’t they WANT people going through their areas; wouldn’t a complete trail have the potential to increase traffic to businesses?

    I must be missing something since I haven’t educated myself much on this whole debate.

  5. We all agree, or should, with Mr. Brower that it’s about safety. Bikes are already on Shilshole Ave. and they aren’t going away. The trail will get them off the street and onto a safer surface. Cyclists have to cross the driveways of the industrial businesses either way. The question is how to do it safely. Simple signage will not slow many cyclists, as anyone who rides the trail between Ballard and Fremont can attest. The Stop signs seem to mean “put your hand on the brake just in case but don’t squeeze it unless your life is endangered.” (I’ve been guilty of that too.)Both drivers and cyclists have to take responsibility. I want to see the trail completed ASAP, but with due care.

    How does the plan address this? Will the trail have anything to make the riders slow near the driveways? Speed bumps? I fear signs alone won’t be effective and someone will get hurt, or worse.

  6. They’re not really retail businesses that are fighting the trail. The Chamber signed on originally at the request of Ballard Oil and Salmon Bay Sand and Gravel.
    The businesses that are fighting it are the old industrial businesses who fear that the trail completion is the next step in gentrifying the neighborhood. It definitely seems like SBSG is fighting because they don’t want to lose the public land that they’ve been using as their own rent free for years. Beyond that I think the reasons for them to fight it are arglebargle spandex grumble grumble hippies arglebargle I remember when arrrrrrrgggg…

  7. This is such BS. First and foremost if MyBallard is really a member of the Chamber (as I read below) its owners should drop out of the group if it insists on continuing to cost us all money by delaying this very needed and beneficial project. Are you a member of the Chamber MyBallard? Let us know so I can take my web traffic elsewhere if the Chamber keeps fighting this needed and beneficial project.

    Second, if this were really about safety this coalition of businesses would be supporting the trail so they could add ideas to the plan to make sure safe crossings are installed at all driveways. They’d also be working with the owner of those train tracks to make him pony up the money to repair them and make them safer for all users. This effort to delay the trail completion is nothing but a temper tantrum being thrown by businesses who realize that they have not kept up with the times and are stuck in the past. I have nothing against industrial businesses and nothing against them being in Ballard, but one has to grown and change with the times to accomodate new people and uses of the area as well. We could all get along down there, but these sad, old people are not willing to.

  8. Oh, it’s about SAFETY now.

    Thanks Josh. I don’t know why I thought it was about the parking. Or the “environment.” Or that the business owners wanted a cycletrack on Leary/Market instead. It has been hard to keep up with the objections of a minority group of adjacent businesses that are a few free parking spots away from going out of business yet seem to a bottomless legal budget.

    And I agree wholeheartedly that this should be studied. How about several decades of extensive public process and review, with a previous appeal and revised SEPA analysis? Oh wait, we already did that.

    The current situation is proven unsafe. So in the name of SAFETY, let’s delay completion of the Missing Link yet again, wasting public and private money in the process.

    So … who’s got a link to the latest appeal, and a list of members for this new group of “Ballard Business Appellants”? What will it take for them to realize they lost?

    As for the fight … this continued costly obstructionism is getting so pathetic that even the Seattle Times comments so far are supportive of the Missing Link.

  9. Do pedestrians need to stop for traffic coming out of driveways? I will wait if I don’t think that I am seen, but usually when a driver is pulling out of a driveway it is their responsibility to make sure nothing is in their way and not assume they have the right of way.

    This is different than other sections of the Burke where trail users are crossing streets and should follow posted signs.

    So defining what type of trails crossings there will be near these businesses will be important.

  10. I do hope that in the process up imrpoving the trail, something is done to overall improve the mess that exists around the neighborhood that is home to Trader Joes and Fred Meyer. Numerous pothole riddled intersections, crazy train tracks, poor or non-existant sidewalks, and increasingly heavy local and through traffic. On top of all that is the BG trail which crosses all of the above in several places. Personally, I think the biggest problem is the train tracks. Something has to give.

  11. I’m not sure why the businesses are so hesitant! Our family rides to ballard and we shop just like people who drive do! Plus having a bike commuting option makes Ballard a more desirable place to live bringing in more people to shop!!! Glad to hear the Chamber is sitting this one out – even if only by not adding their name.

  12. To their credit the neighborhood is gentrifying but they should try to work with the changes rather than creating a battle of turf. I sympathize with their position but they aren’t the only ones in the community any longer.

  13. Come on Ballard… lets not make this a microcosm of the whole monorail/ viaduct/ tunnel fiasco and take ten years to agree on what solution should be implemented only to spend more money, go with a crappy alternative and end up putting bikers underground.


  14. Like I said, it’s mostly fear based. The irony is that when the real battle to preserve those businesses happens with an eventual rezone of the industrial area they’ll have way fewer friends to call on. Before this I would have most likely sided with the industries, but I doubt I’d give them any support whatsoever now. If they’re going to be lousy neighbors then good riddance!

  15. We should take a page from the biz playbook and start a campaign and lawsuit to stop the train. Who’s with me? Stop the train! Stop the train! Stop the train!
    Any lawyers feel like filing a few lawsuits against the Ballard RR? Anyone want to tip the IRS off to investigate how much of a tax scam this thing might be? Anyone hurt on those tracks want to get the RR to pay for your medical bills and pain and suffering?
    If they want to use the process as a weapon to get what they want, maybe we should too.

  16. That is an interesting thought, but I wonder if it would actually be the city that plays defendant. Who is responsible for the tracks? The city that owns them, or the business that holds the franchise/whatever?

  17. Are you kidding?! A bike tunnel would be so awesome. If money wasn’t an object, how cool would it be to ride your bike through a tunnel? Preferably with Eye of the Tiger piped in! Everyone wins.

  18. What is it about “Disclosure: MyBallard is a member of the Ballard Chamber of Commerce” don’t you understand?

    Hold the phones. Charles is taking his intenet traffic elsewhere!

    One can only hope.

  19. Already exists!

    [Oh, right. Disqus doesn’t allow links. Just Google “Mount Baker bicycle tunnel” and click on “videos.”]

  20. No joke! It amazes me that there are parts of this country that have gone out and built whole light rail systems passing through multiple cities faster than the people of Seattle can build one stupid little bike trail. What is it about this town and trying to build/fix any sort of infrastructure?

  21. How many appeals are they entitled to? This is where power politics comes in handy. Mayor McGinn needs to tell these bozos “if you ever need a permit for anything, I will spend every ounce of my political energy to make sure you don’t get it…ever….forever”. If not McGinn, then other city council members need to put the screws to them.

  22. Step one would be to demolish the eyesore and Southern California paradise that is the Ballard Blocks.

    How that thing got approved is beyond me, but now when people come into Ballard, their first impression is “LA FITNESS” and it embarrasses me.

  23. I think this is easy enough to solve. North of UW the BG has some blinking stop signs where it crosses streets. That seems to cause a lot of proper crossings.

  24. We’re doing an in depth story on the missing link this week, including interviews with the chamber and some of the appellants. Unfortunately the advocacy people from the Cascade Bicycle Club are in DC this week for the National Bike Summit, so it might be tough to catch David Hiller before air time. They’re going to try to make it work, but it might not.

    With this case of bad timing, I feel like our interview list is a little lean on cycling advocates, so feel free to suggest alternate organizations who might have someone willing to tape an interview for the piece. I’ll post a request on the forums and anyone wishing to respond privately can do so by e-mailing us at

  25. I’m not talking about suing the city, but rather the businesses that have obstructed the trail and operated the toy train. The city doesn’t own the tracks.

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