UW to apply for federal funding for Burke-Gilman Trail improvements

For those Ballardites who take the Burke-Gilman Trail to the University of Washington each day, a smoother ride could be coming in the future, as the UW is applying for federal funding to fix up the portion of the trail that passes through campus. UW Transportation Services is vying for a $12 million U.S. Department of Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery (TIGER) grant to finish the university-owned 1.7 mile segment of the trail before the Link Light Rail service begins service to the UW in 2016.

According to a statement from the UW, planning and design work is already underway for the corridor, which serves around 10,000 a day. The improvements would include “widening the trail, separating bicyclists and walkers onto different trails, adding bicycle parking facilities, enhancing lighting, upgrading the trail’s ADA accessibility, building public spaces and creating safer intersections between popular footpaths, roadways and the trail.”

The UW plans to finish the work on the trail regardless of TIGER funding, but will be forced to use their own funding as it becomes available. That means the construction and detours would be dragged out well after the completion of the Link Light Rail opens in just a few years.

That portion of the trail is in need of repair, according to UW Active Transportation Analyst David Amiton. “In spring 2010 we started looking at the trail and conducting studies on trail use and future utilization and demand,” Amiton said in a statement from UW. “The data shows that the trail is not operating well under current conditions, and that those conditions will only degrade further over time.” Crumbling asphalt, sudden bumps and cracks caused by tree roots, and some dicey intersections are among the poor conditions that necessitate improvements, according to UW. And, with the light rail coming soon, they expect that traffic along that portion of the trail will only increase in the coming years.

Alicia Halberg, a communications coordinator with the UW Transportation Services, says the funding would immensely benefit commuters from our neighborhood. “We’re excited for what this work means not only for the UW community, but the thousands of users who rely on the trail as a regional connection to downtown, Fremont, Ballard and other neighborhoods,” Halberg said in a statement.

To get a glimpse of the concept design and report, click here.

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