LEVY DOLLARS AT WORK | Refined Burke-Gilman Trail “Missing Link” design allows us to move this safety project forward and resume construction as soon as next year

Improvements completed last year as part of the Ballard Multimodal Corridor Project non-trail Market Phase outside of the National Nordic Museum. Photo Credit: SDOT.

Summary

  • We have refined the Burke-Gilman Trail “Missing Link” design to address previous community concerns and allow us to start construction as soon as next year.
  • The Missing Link refers to the long-planned bike safety improvements along 1.4 miles of Salmon Bay east of the Ballard Locks connecting two existing sections of the Burke-Gilman Trail in Ballard.
  • The design refinements adjust the project to meet changing conditions along the corridor, such as eliminating the need to relocate railroad tracks on Shilshole Ave NW and NW 45th St.
  • Over the past four years, the City has built over 38 miles of bike facilities for people of all ages and abilities and made significant investments in freight infrastructure.
  • A more specific timeline and design for the Missing Link will be available in the coming weeks.

We have refined the Burke-Gilman Trail “Missing Link” design to address previous community concerns and allow us to start construction as soon as next year.

The design refinement will keep the important project moving and follow through with a commitment to additional safe travel options. SDOT anticipates the adjustments will put the project back on track to be completed before the voter-approved Levy to Move Seattle sunsets in 2024 and will minimize risk of increased costs. The design refinements adjust the project to meet changing conditions along the corridor, such as eliminating the need to relocate railroad tracks and minor changes to reduce the amount of paving needed.

“Completing the Burke-Gilman Trail Missing Link is an important and too long delayed piece of safety infrastructure in Seattle. By redesigning the Missing Link we will finally be able to give the bike, walking and rolling community a safe route to enjoy the treasure that is the Burke-Gilman trail. After continued legal challenges, these next steps will bring us tangibly closer to finishing this crucial project.”

– Seattle Mayor Jenny Durkan

The Missing Link refers to the long-planned bike safety improvements along 1.4 miles of Salmon Bay east of the Ballard Locks connecting two existing sections of the Burke-Gilman Trail in Ballard.

The trail currently serves hundreds of people walking and riding bikes along the corridor every day. The City has worked with the Ballard community on this critical safety investment since 2001 and included a commitment to complete the project as a part of the voter-approved Levy to Move Seattle. Legal challenges paused construction on the Missing Link, while other pieces of the Ballard Multimodal Corridor Project moved forward, including street paving, traffic signal improvements, and new sidewalk construction.

Transit upgrades on NW Market St as part of previously completed work on the Ballard Multimodal Corridor Project. Photo Credit: SDOT.

“We have built more than 38 miles of bike facilities in the past four years, making many critical connections, but in many ways completing this glaring mile and a half gap in the Burke-Gilman Trail feels like the most symbolically important connection we have yet to build. This project creates a path for people of all ages and abilities in Ballard and connects to a larger network throughout Puget Sound.”

– SDOT Director Sam Zimbabwe

The design refinements adjust the project to meet changing conditions along the corridor, such as eliminating the need to relocate railroad tracks on Shilshole Ave NW and NW 45th St.

This updates also makes minor changes to the trail buffer width, reducing the amount of paving needed and cutting the construction time roughly in half to significantly reduce the effects on Ballard businesses, residents, travelers, and visitors. The design preserves essential safety features where the trail crosses driveways and intersections, and the community preferred route of Shilshole Ave NW is maintained. These pragmatic adjustments maintain design standards and simplify some of the steps required to move the project forward and resume construction.

Because the new scope addresses previous concerns, a simpler design and permitting process is anticipated, potentially setting SDOT up to start construction in late 2022 or early 2023. The new timeline anticipates seven months of construction, putting the City on pace to deliver the project as a part of the nine-year Levy to Move Seattle.  

Over the past four years, the City has built over 38 miles of bike facilities for people of all ages and abilities and made significant investments in freight infrastructure.

This includes nearly 18 miles of protected bike lanes and 20 miles of neighborhood greenways. More parts of the city are connected by high-quality bike routes than ever before, with even more connections planned in the future.

Over the next three years, SDOT is on track to add an additional 19 miles of all ages and abilities facilities to the bike network. 

In that time, SDOT has also made significant investments in freight infrastructure, including building the Lander Street Bridge in SoDo and over 15 freight spot improvements around the city, conducting a comprehensive review of alley congestion downtown, partnering with University of Washington Urban Freight Lab to test solutions to improve the final 50 feet of the urban goods delivery system, and several other partnership projects with BNSF and Union Pacific to improve surface crossings of train tracks in other parts of the city.  

A more specific timeline and design for the Missing Link will be available in the coming weeks.

Hear more from the community:

“It’s past time to complete the Burke Gilman Missing Link, and we support the city’s proposed redesign along Shilshole Ave NW. Completing the Missing Link along the Shilshole route makes sense: It’s the most simple, safe and connected route that has won the overwhelming public support of people walking and biking over the last two decades. 

“Since 2008, caring neighbors have shown their devotion to closing the gap in the Missing Link, only to face delays in the form of crippling lawsuits. During that time, countless people have been unnecessarily injured on the Missing Link. This design reflects their desires for a safe, simple and connected trail. Seventy-seven percent of the 4,500 respondents to the City’s planning process said they want to complete the trail along Shilshole Ave. NW. The redesign announced today is a pragmatic solution for completing the Missing Link. We thank city leaders and staff for their perseverance and creativity. 

“Completing the Missing Link will be a major milestone that allows people to safely ride 44 miles on connected, separated trails from Golden Gardens to the foothills of the Cascades on the Locks to Lakes Corridor.” 

Lee Lambert, Cascade Bicycle Club Executive Director

“This is great news! The public and the vast majority of local businesses have supported completing the ‘Missing Link’ of the Burke-Gilman Trail in Ballard for nearly 20 years. The Burke-Gilman Trail is a multiuse trail for people of all abilities to walk, jog, run, bike, etc. It’s not just for cyclists. People don’t just walk and bike for health and recreation; they also walk and bike for transportation. The 20-mile regional trail from Seattle’s Golden Gardens Park to the Sammamish River Trail in Bothell is complete except for a 1.4-mile segment through Ballard. Completing it will improve public access, transportation, and safety. Also, combined with SDOT’s current plan to increase bus transportation on Leary Avenue NW with the Route 40 Transit Plus Multimodal Corridor project, the transportation options for residents, workers, and visitors to and from Ballard will increase significantly, benefiting residents and businesses alike.” 

Mark Durall, General Manager of Olympic Athletic Club, Hotel Ballard, and Ballard Inn

“Trail supporters, including many of my fellow Ballard residents, are excited about this plan. Creating safe, simple, and connected access for trail users of all ages and abilities to Ballard businesses is a dream come true. The plan, which improves safety for all travel modes, also aligns perfectly with the City’s Vision Zero goals.”

Kevin Carrabine, Friends of the Burke-Gilman Trail

“For 20 years I have pursued the development of a balanced and safe connective design for the completion of the regional Burke-Gilman Trail Missing Link, as Design and Planning Principal of the 2001 ‘The Missing Link Study’ for the Friends of the Burke Gilman Trail to my final role as a participant with the Design Advisory Committee (2017 – 2019). Through 3 successive City of Seattle efforts to work with all interests along the corridor, the goals for completing this essential regional project have been the same: safety and predictability for all travelers, maintaining access to commercial and industrial uses, connectivity to the existing bike/pedestrian network, and accessibility and comfort for the greatest diversity of people. 

“In my final role as a participant with the Missing Link Design Advisory Committee (2017 – 2019), we used international and local design consultants to refine every design decision with the Seattle Department of Transportation design team to align with the key principles of our design charter.  

“It is time to deliver this critical infrastructure to the people of Seattle.” 

Davidya Kasperzyk, Burke-Gilman Trail Missing Link Design Advisory Committee Member