The years-long effort to connect a missing portion of the Burke-Gilman Trail—aka, the Missing Link—is yet again delayed.
For over a decade, the City has tried to connect the missing 1.4-mile segment of the trail between the Ballard Locks and Ballard Bridge. With the NW Market St section between the Locks and 24th Ave NW complete, the next portion is along Shilshole Ave NW.
Their proposed Shilshole alignment has been challenged again and again by several industry and business owners in Ballard, known as the Ballard Coalition. The Coalition instead wants the trail to be built on NW Market Street and Leary Avenue, away from the industrial traffic of Shilshole.
The Seattle Department of Transportation recently had proposed to realign the Ballard Terminal Railroad tracks along Shilshole in order to build the new section of trail, but a King County Superior Court judge has ruled against the proposal, citing a tradition of legal protections for railroads.
A spokesperson from SDOT said that the department “respectfully disagrees” with the decision, which they say challenges their ability to, “successfully manage the public right-of-way for the health and safety of the traveling public.”
They continue: “This decision could have concerning broader implications for public safety, and we plan to appeal the matter to the Court of Appeals which is already considering a related case about the Burke-Gilman Trail.”
The Burke-Gilman Missing Link construction is one part of the larger Ballard Multimodal Corridor project, which transformed the west end of NW Market St over the course of the past year. Along with trail building, the project includes roadway paving, new sidewalks, storm drainage, and signal improvements.
“These critical changes have been repeatedly delayed due to ongoing legal challenges,” SDOT says, adding that the planned trail alignment, “provides the best public safety option while also mitigating potential impacts to businesses. We will continue to pursue resolution through the courts rather than compromising public safety with an inferior alternative route.”
SDOT says they anticipate the next phase of the Multimodal Corridor project —along Shilshole Ave—will be delayed until late 2021 or early 2022 at the earliest, due to ongoing court proceedings.