SDOT to resume work on long-awaited Burke-Gilman ‘Missing Link’ in late 2022

Nov 1, 2021, 5:13 PM
Burke Gilman Missing Link...
Cyclists and pedestrians have been waiting on the completion of the 'Missing Link' for years now. (KIRO Radio file photo)
(KIRO Radio file photo)

The Seattle Department of Transportation announced Monday that it will soon be able to resume construction on the long-awaited Burke-Gilman Trail “Missing Link.”

Ballard ‘Missing Link’ remains unresolved

The “Missing Link” label refers to an unfinished stretch of the Burke Gilman Trail that cyclists and pedestrians have been waiting on for decades. Currently, the Burke-Gilman spans Bothell to Golden Gardens in North Seattle, but is interrupted by a mile-long portion where trail users must share the road with normal vehicle traffic.

“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,” SDOT Director Sam Zimbabwe said in a news release.

The city has long sought to complete the trail by re-routing it along Shilshole Avenue, but has faced opposition from businesses in the area who favor an alternative plan to have the Missing Link run along neighboring Leary Avenue. Cyclists and pedestrians have criticized the Leary Avenue proposal for forcing them to cross a number of streets used by cars.

The process was further delayed in June of 2020, when a King County Superior Court judge ruled that the city did not have the authority to move Ballard Terminal Railroad train tracks at Northwest 45th Street to make room for the trail on Shilshole Avenue.

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On Monday, SDOT said that it has now “refined” its Missing Link design “to address previous community concerns,” while “eliminating the need” to relocate the Ballard Terminal Railroad tracks. The trail will instead “reduce new paving areas” in the area near the train tracks, while maintaining the original plan to have it run along Shilshole Avenue.

“Completing the Burke-Gilman Trail Missing Link is an important and too long delayed piece of safety infrastructure in Seattle,” Seattle Mayor Jenny Durkan said on Monday. “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.”

SDOT hopes to resume construction on the Missing Link by “late 2022 or early 2023,” followed by roughly seven months of work.

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SDOT to resume work on long-awaited Burke-Gilman ‘Missing Link’ in late 2022