King County Judge rules SDOT must halt Missing Link construction

In yet another twist in the Missing Link saga, a King County Court Judge has ruled that work must halt on the Ballard Multimodal Corridor project.

The recent ruling came from King County Judge Roger Rogoff on July 2nd, which once again determined that the Final Environmental Impact Statement (FEIS) is incomplete.

Judge Rogoff cited Judge Samuel Chung’s December 2018 ruling that initially found the FEIS inadequate, based on potential economic impact to businesses along the Shilshole corridor.

SDOT recently told My Ballard that they were given the go-ahead to develop the Shilshole section. And, the department has been busy at work on the Market Street corridor of the project for several weeks now, which may be allowed to continue if they can show it has “independent utility” from the greater Missing Link project.

The Market Street project goes beyond just trail work — SDOT is also repaving, improving transit, and upgrading street safety — so it may be considered independent and therefore allowed to be completed. One can only hope that’s the case, considering the current demolished state of Market Street west of 24th Ave.

The Ballard Coalition, a group of trail opponents, is hopeful that the Missing Link will be built on Leary Ave, rather than Shilshole.

“Shilshole is one of just two industrial zones remaining in Seattle, and the only location with sufficient water access for maritime industries and the businesses that support them,” the Coalition writes in a press release about Judge Rogoff’s ruling. “The bike trail would put these companies – and the family-wage jobs they provide – out of business.”

“The Court’s ruling once again vindicates the Coalition’s efforts to ensure the City properly discloses the significant adverse impacts from the Missing Link, which can easily be avoided by moving the middle section just two blocks onto Leary Avenue,” Ballard Coalition attorney Joshua Brower says.

Now, it’s up to SDOT to determine what happens next.

“We’re basically figuring out what this means for us,” SDOT spokesperson Ethan Bergerson tells My Ballard.

He explained that SDOT is working with the Seattle City Attorney’s office to decide their next step — we’ll update as soon as we learn more.


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Amphidextrous
Member
Amphidextrous

This is shocking! Why can’t SDOT provide timely, competent and thorough environmental evaluation of its projects as the law requires? Where is the outrage of environmental advocates?

Freja
Member
Freja

The EIS in this situation is not really “environmental” as we normally think of it. It was to assess safety, parking, and economic impact of the businesses along the route. This 829 page study is one of the largest in history for such a small project. The the judge “identified the potential for increased costs of insurance” as the basis for the ruling.

When all other attempts to stop a project have failed, the EIS is what one takes to court as a hail Mary. Elizabeth Campbell cost the city tens of thousands of dollars by continually challenging the EIS for the Fort Lawton project and managed to delay it for over a decade under the guise of being a “neighborhood watchdog group” rather than a lone loony. I would not be surprised to see something similar behind the Ballard Coalition.

multimodal
Member
multimodal

Why was Salmon Bay Sand and Gravel (the $ behind the opposition) fined for environmental violations?

That’s where the outrage should be focused if you are concern about the environment.

terryj
Member
terryj

site the violations or shut your trap

carsongbaker
Member
carsongbaker

What.
Disappointing to say the least. I’m running low on optimism for this one.

spark
Member
spark

I don’t understand the shilshole route. Can anyone explain why the city prefers Shilshole?

I ask this as an avid cyclist who much prefers cycling on Leary over Shilshole.

kdavid
Member
kdavid

Because there is a natural protected path option on the south side of Shilshole Ave that would separate trail users more fully from the street than coexisting with motorists, transit & businesses on both sides of Leary Ave.

kdavid
Member
kdavid

I should clarify – in my other post on this I referred to “Sparky” – and by that I did not mean you! ;-)

VeganBiker
Member
VeganBiker

spark – I agree that riding on Leary or even Ballard Ave feels safer than riding on Shilshole currently. However the BGT is not just a bike trail, it is a multi use trail and the logical route for the missing link is for it to continue along the south side of 45th and then the south side of Shilshole and along NW 54th, but that last past won’t happen because SDOT, in trying to get this finished, decider to run the trail along the south side of NW Market to please Ballard Oil and all the businesses along 54th that are opposed to the trail.

multimodal
Member
multimodal

It needs to be improved for all people who use it and not left in the current state. Residents want a walkable neighborhood.

terryj
Member
terryj

speak for yourself only. no arrogance needed

Matt
Member
Matt

Because the quickest route from point A to point B is a straight line. People will ride on Shilshole whether there is a dedicated path or not.

Truth
Member
Truth

In my opinion, they should build the BGT on Shilshole and 54th and also build a cycle track on Leary and Market.

Give everyone what they want!

kdavid
Member
kdavid

““Shilshole is … the only location with sufficient water access for maritime industries and the businesses that support them,” the Coalition writes in a press release about Judge Rogoff’s ruling. “The bike trail would put these companies – and the family-wage jobs they provide – out of business.”” What unmitigated horse apples – How can they contend this with a straight face? For instance, there is a stretch of West Marginal Way South with the Duwamish River Trail and more than a dozen driveway crossings (Cal Portland, numerous ATL accessways, etc) in West Seattle that works just fine! (source: I commuted by there for years by bike – with not so much as a close call). There’s also all the terminal Bike Trail traffic by T-46, T-30, T-18, T-5 and T-91. Then there is all the Bike corridor traffic on the North, East & West sides of Lake Union – the Chesiahud trail. What a bunch of entitled whiners these Shilshole maritime businesses are. Need I point out all the bike traffic through urban industrial SoDo and SouthPark? What the businesses on Shilshole Ave need to realize, is that like it or not, they live in an ever denser city,… Read more »

Amphidextrous
Member
Amphidextrous

Not how the Judge saw it. “This ain’t the 50’s” is a weak legal argument, Sparky.

kdavid
Member
kdavid

Amphi – that is not my argument. But “good on ya” for going for the snark. :-|

Amphidextrous
Member
Amphidextrous

Just quoting you. I’ll avoid that in future.

terryj
Member
terryj

As long as the city covers the insurance for accidents due to increased traffic in an Industrial area. What the bikers on Shilshole Ave need to realize, is that like it or not, they choose to ride in an ever denser city, as well in an “industrial” corridor.

Lizzy the Lezzy
Member
Lizzy the Lezzy

SDOT really is a huge mess. So like the current city government: shoot first, aim second. Ridiculous.

Truth
Member
Truth

By all means, tell us how an obstructionist group of businesses using an environmental process to halt a trail has anything to do with SDOT

Lizzy the Lezzy
Member
Lizzy the Lezzy

Fair enough. I guess I just feel like If there was still a chance that this could be brought to a grinding halt they should have held fire before going at this whole hog.

Truth
Member
Truth

You must have missed the article from two weeks back. Here’s an important excerpt: The Court said the FEIS was adequate in all areas, “except for one portion of the analysis of economic factors, specifically the possible economic impacts associated with the potential risk of conflicts between people walking, biking, and driving,” Ethan Bergerson from SDOT tells My Ballard. Bergerson said the City addressed the issue by completing an additional economic analysis in April, which “did not find any new significant adverse economic impacts associated with these risks.” What should have been a simple modification is being turned into a full EIS resubmittal, which requires Seattle to submit the entire EIS for public review and comment, resetting the 120 day clock to zero. I’ve worked on many SEPA and EIS processes and have dealt with both appeals and modifications. What the judge is doing is completely absurd and atypical, especially considering this is a bike trail, on public ROW, that currently handles significant bike traffic AKA you are making things better for everyone. The one upside is that we may see SEPA/EIS reform come out of this 30 year boondoggle. In my opinion, Seattle completed the EIS requirements perfectly and… Read more »

louploup
Member
louploup

“SEPA/EIS reform” — what do you have in mind? “Reform” usually means those being regulated to prevent or minimize externalized impacts from their impacts are able to buy “regulatory reform.” Which almost always means less regulation and more externalities.

Truth
Member
Truth

Well for starters, why does the EIS for a multiuse trial on public ROW get dragged on for years, but Expedia expanding their Interbay parking garage to be larger than the Mariners parking garage, in an already overcapacity traffic corridor with decent transit, breezes through the process?

Seems like the process currently works exactly like you fear it would become.

For starters EIS process could have different tiers based on predetermined assumptions environmental impact.

fluggermutation
Member
fluggermutation

This has been discussed and studied for over 20 years. The aim has been focused on Shilshole after Every. Single. Study.

VeganBiker
Member
VeganBiker

FWIW – the busiest time for trail users along this Missing Link section is on the weekend! When almost all the large businesses are closed! The other busy times for bike riders are the commute hours and I am hoping that most of those riders are paying more attention if they are regular commuters.
So if and when this section is completed it will be a much safer section to travel for all users.

Moomancer
Member
Moomancer

Bummer. At the point Market was being dug up I figured this was a done deal. The argument about this putting the companies along ShilShole out of business is crazy. The Burke Gilman interfaces with other similar businesses just fine. This is all just old and tiresome at this point. I bike commute from Ballard to Bellevue a few days a week and the segment along ShilShole is by far the most dangerous. It’s fine as long as you’re careful and paying close attention but I would definitely appreciated a protected bike lane.

adron
Member
adron

I got stoked about this too. Then saw this post and thought, “oh joy, Seattle continues to play the northwest’s laggard city by virtue of its own ineptitude.” Ugh.

Seattle process I guess?! :-/

louploup
Member
louploup

A bad decision by a judge is not “Seattle process.” it’s just a bad decision by a judge.

kdavid
Member
kdavid

Keep in mind that Market being dug up west of 24th works for either the Leary or Shilshole route. So it’s a safe place to start digging…

louploup
Member
louploup

Yes, because the real “missing link” is the one from 24th to the Locks along 54th where the trail should be.

adron
Member
adron

What is the deal with these new judges that just seem to crop up out of nowhere after this Ballard Coalition (i.e. I’m betting it’s a few people with cash, by no means a majority of Ballardites) seems to go around to new judges and find new courts to drag things to a halt again? Wasting our time, endangering peoples lives, fighting for something that is by no means going to put these businesses out of operation. They’re building street surface, that’s already there, with safety improvements for motorists (i.e. re: the businesses) and cyclists (i.e. Ballardite Seattlians) that are trying to live their lives and not have to battle that wreckless, negligent, dangerous state of Shilshole as it is. The city has already setup something like a $23 million dollar project as mostly handouts to the businesses for “access” along the route for something the city bought and was supposed to have built … ~30 years ago now? Maybe it’s been longer that they’ve been fighting this thing. If this was just a bike trail it’d be maybe 1/20th that or less. But instead the city has tried to appease these extremist positions from these few businesses that *think*… Read more »

Paintking
Member
Paintking

What’s the deal with all the judges the left finds in Hawaii or NYC to hold up POTUS and what he wants to do? I bet you don’t mind them. I bet you also love the 9th district court in SF as well. Tell me, what IS the difference between this judge and an angry mob of protesters? Both hold things up. Except 1 is the legal process. The other, a nuisance. All this for a tiny % of residents too.

Truth
Member
Truth

One judge is upholding constitutional law, the other is blocking a trail because a group of Obstructionists are abusing the environmental process. Don’t forget how the GOP literally just found a judge in Texas who will hear a case to (yet again) try to overturn Obamacare.

So the left “finds” judges to uphold the constitution, the right “finds” judges to screw over Americans. Is that what you were trying to convey?

Amphidextrous
Member
Amphidextrous

Judge Rogoff didn’t “crop up.” He was appointed by Governor Jay Inslee. He sat through the whole trial and (presumably) read all the briefs.
Did you?

Freja
Member
Freja

Concerning the question of the judge:
This case has been in King County Superior Court for some time. It was previously assigned to Judge Samuel Chung but transferred to Judge Rogoff in January. This is not uncommon. Every year in January the court implements whatever administrative changes they have decided upon the previous year. Judges can be reassigned to different divisions (civil/criminal/family/juvenile/etc) or even from one courthouse to the other.
You don’t get to go judge shopping in King County, you get whomever you are assigned.
When filing (as plaintiff) in Federal District Court you have more discretion on which court you chose to file in within certain parameters. That’s when attorneys are shopping for the court/judges who are most likely to rule favorably upon their case.

louploup
Member
louploup

It is not accurate that the route on Market was “planned for decades.” The route from Shilshole up to Market at 24th and then west to the Locks was a very recent craven compromise.

multimodal
Member
multimodal

SDOT please put a 12 foot sidewalk on the south side of Shilshole! Don’t call it the missing link or BGT. That’s got to be legal. Do it as part of Vision Zero (which is really Zero Visions these days). Shilshole needs to be improved for all users.

multimodal
Member
multimodal

My Ballard didn’t quote the actual ruling. SDOT can continue construction of infrastructure, just not the trail at this time. Nothing says they can’t build a sidewalk.

bobbyv
Member
bobbyv

Aren’t they suppose to have all this figured out before they start tearing up our streets ?

El Grunion
Member
El Grunion

that would seem like a good idea…

multimodal
Member
multimodal

It was. Check out the project website. SDOT can continue building the sidewalk and driveways while also paving the streets. Nothing wrong with that. Also add paid parking like every where else in the city.

afgseattle
Member
afgseattle

The workers sawing into concrete near Portage Bay right now must have missed the memo.

Does anyone know if there’s a noise ordinance or something that requires them to stop at a set time? It’s 9:21 p.m.

multimodal
Member
multimodal

From their email:

“What to expect during project construction
General work hours from 7 AM to 7 PM, Monday through Saturday
Crews may work some nights and weekends to minimize impacts to traffic during weekday commute times”

Also:

“In summer of 2020, we will be doing a full concrete reconstruction of NW Market St between 24th Ave NW and 15th Ave NW. This project includes sidewalk repairs, curb ramp upgrades, water main replacements and stormwater drainage improvements. ”

VeganBiker
Member
VeganBiker

afgseattle – I believe it is 10PM.
7AM to 10PM

afgseattle
Member
afgseattle

That’s exactly when they stopped! Thanks

afgseattle
Member
afgseattle

They’re at it again tonight which seems odd considering I didn’t hear anything when I got off the bus at 28th & Market @ 5:15 pm. Is there a reason concrete cutting needs to happen in the evening MidMountain Contractors, Inc.?

Freja
Member
Freja

Just a guess but I wouldn’t be surprised if they are working to get this done extra fast in light of the recent injuctive relief granted on the next leg of the route.

Matt
Member
Matt

In a way this points out the silliness of an EIS statement. The EIS is just a set list of criteria that may or may not provide an accurate picture of economic impact. Remember that the city claimed the move of Expedia to Interbay “passed the EIS” so no impact, right? And the city also touted that their DADU expansion “passed the EIS” so no adverse impact on neighborhoods and parking, right?

The the EIS is often exactly what the city wants it to be. And Salmon Bay Gravel is using that vagueness
to delay this worth effort. Can any cyclist who is injured in Shilshole sue them for preventing a safer path?

RicoDynamite
Member
RicoDynamite

Some long time Ballard folks may remember, but most probably don’t know – the original trail connection was supposed to go down Leary.

This was the Manning plan and originally selected by bikers and the City as the best route. However, the businesses along Leary didn’t want the trail there and rallied the city to move it.

Thus was the beginning of the battle over Shilshole. The City currently estimates the cost to complete at $26.4M. Actual project costs will likely be $30M-40M for construction, which begs the question, why would the City spend so much on a recreational bike trail? And why would the businesses along the Shilshole route be so adamantly opposed? Have a look at all the new multi-use boxes around Ballard where once stood single family homes, and for the initiatives supported by councilman O’brien.

kdavid
Member
kdavid

There’s a growing contingent of folks that “recreate” their way to and from work each day along that route. And there’d be more, if there were a safer way to do so – saving gas, parking, traffic wait times for those that have to drive. I am all for alternatives to SOV’s, and this is part of that. People complain it’s a small percentage of commuters – but in reality (and studies and practical examples have shown this), if you give people safe alternatives to commute or go shop with, they will take advantage of them. Imagine a day when we say: “but only 45% of people go by bike or walk…”

multimodal
Member
multimodal

I recall that people protested that plan because Shilshole made more sense. Besides, it’s a mixed use trail, not just a cycle track. Nearly every one wants it on Shilshole, that’s what came out of the EIS process.

The cost keep going up because of Salmon Bay Sand and Gravel.

At this point the city should fix Shilshole by moving forward with a 12 foot sidewalk in place of the trail. That would greatly improved the area for everyone.

Shilshole will cost more when someone dies and their family brings a lawsuit against the city because they did nothing.

NA
Member
NA

It’s not a recreational trail… it’s a travel corridor for everything that’s not a car. Imagine the outrage if even a single existing street were closed to car traffic, yet it’s a multi generational battle to get just one lane built.

Salmon Bay Sand and Gravel does not own Shilshole Ave. None of the other businesses do. We all do as taxpayers and residents, this trail is for all of *us*, and we want a new corridor instead of continuing to serve niche business interests.

VeganBiker
Member
VeganBiker

RicoDynamite – What? Do you have any links to what you posted?
WAY BACK in time, when the trail ended at 11th and 45th the proposed trail was along the railway track to Golden Gardens. What are you talking about? Leary was suggested as a option by the Ballard Businesses that opposed the trail along the railroad tracks.

louploup
Member
louploup

I agree with VeganBiker: Leary was never a realistic alternative—it dumps people into the heart of Ballard’s congested mess at 22nd and Market. It was the opponents to the only logical route since the 1990s—on Shilshole and 54th.

Ballardeer
Member
Ballardeer

The city, and the supporters of the trail, need better lawyers. It’s crazy that a couple of businesses can stop a public project just to protect their own interests. Many more working-class people are currently at risk biking along the waterfront to work than are employed by those few businesses. At least the current situation seems to be clear that the only holdup to building the trail is the economic interest of those few waterfront businesses. I just don’t understand why these possible economic impacts, which are mainly due to a growing city, outweigh the personal safety of people who are walking or riding their bikes.