Seattle mayor: We have a route for Burke-Gilman Trail missing link

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When I first saw the headline, I checked the date to make sure it was March 1 instead of April 1, April Fools Day.

The “missing link” weaves over railroad tracks in Ballard, where bicyclists frequently crash

But it appears to be legit. The Seattle Mayor’s Office has announced that Ballard neighborhood business owners and bicycling advocates have reached an agreement on a route for the Burke-Gilman Trail‘s missing link.

The 19-mile-long trail – dating back to the 1970s – is one of the oldest rail-trail conversions in the nation. Rails to Trails Conservancy honored it with a Hall of Fame designation.

It runs between Lake Washington and Puget Sound, rolling through the University of Washington campus and serving as the backbone for thousands of bicycle commuters on a daily basis. With other trails in the region, it’s the western section of more than 40 miles of paved trails that head east to the base of the Cascade foothills.

But for the past 17 years that I’ve lived in the area, there’s been a battle going on about where to route a 1.4-mile gap. The missing link is in a Ballard neighborhood that’s home to many maritime businesses that serve shipping and fishing fleets in Salmon Bay.

Compromise route for Burke Gilman missing link

There have been community and council meetings, lawsuits, court hearings and environmental impact reports on the subject.

Business owners were concerned about bicyclists delaying truck traffic, while bicyclists wanted the most direct and safest route.

The compromise route runs along Market Street between the Ballard Locks and 24th Avenue NW, then turns onto Shilshole Avenue NW where it runs along the south side of the street to the eastern end at the Fred Meyer store.

The new trail won’t happen anytime soon, though. The environmental impact study won’t be complete until May, and the Seattle Times reports the city’s department of transportation doesn’t expect to get started until sometime in 2018.

Congratulations to the work by the Cascade Bicycle Club and many others in seeing this through to success.

More at Seattle Bike Blog.

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