Michael Harthorne
A cyclist rides along Shilshole Avenue, a portion of the missing link of the Burke-Gilman Trail. The trail can be completed after a June 9 ruling by the City of Seattle Hearing Examiner.

Appeal fails, 'missing link' to be completed

Construction on the missing link of the Burke-Gilman Trail can begin after an appeal by neighborhood business and industrial groups failed.

On June 9, Sue Tanner, hearing examiner for the City of Seattle, upheld the Seattle Department of Transportation's determination of non-significance on the environmental impacts of completing the trail.

The appeal was filed against the department's determination Dec. 17 by Salmon Bay Sand and Gravel, the Ballard Chamber of Commerce, Ballard Oil, The Ballard Interbay Northend Manufacturing and Industrial Center, the North Seattle Industrial Coalition and the Seattle Marine Business Coalition.

In January, the Cascade Bicycle Club was granted a motion to intervene in the appeal.

The city is now free to complete the final portion – often referred to as the missing link – of the Burke Gilman-Trail. The missing link runs from 11th Avenue Northwest to the Ballard Locks, and plans call for the trail to have sections on both Shilshole Avenue and Ballard Avenue.

The city is pleased with the hearing results and eager to move forward with the project, said Richard Sheridan, spokesperson for the Department of Transportation. He said the city will continue to work with property owners near the trail to address their concerns.

Eugene Wasserman, from the North Seattle Industrial Association, said the association is not happy with the ruling. He said it was obvious the hearing examiner, a city employee, sided with the city, and the association is looking at appealing the ruling to a superior court.

In a press release, the Cascade Bicycle Club said the hearing examiner's ruling "is an indication of the progress the city is making toward improving Seattle's bicycle network."

The city should be able to have a bid opening for the project by the end of August, Sheridan said.

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Ballard business: Appeal at your risk ...

As an everyday cyclist who rides this currently dangerous route all the time, and a Ballard Oil customer, I've been conflicted about Warren Aakervik's obstructionist position on the Missing Link (and SBS&G, etc), but have given them the benefit of the doubt. They have some legitimate concerns sprinkled in amongst their barrage of PR and BS. But ones that I think can be appropriately designed for in a way that lets the trail and industry coexist. And we're already putting up with temporary diversions that will actually make this route much less functional, in the name of "compromise".

Some compromise. They sued anyway, and now are threatening to obstruct further by appealing to Superior Court.

So, from a so-far-sympathetic customer to certain Ballard businesses - my goodwill to you ends if you appeal this ruling. If you want to continue to obstruct this popular project, it's your prerogative. But you will lose my business and any bits of sympathy I have left for your concerns. You may not care much about one home oil customer, but I think I'm reasonably representative of other folks in your community.

And I will hope that we not only win in superior courts, but have the good sense to build the trail all the way through on the first go. You stopped compromising long ago - why should we?

This is so un-Scandinavian

Thanks Julian. I believe your opinion is shared by many others.

Having lived here 20+ years, and seen the continued push to honor Ballard's Scandinavian heritage, it's sad to see such a head in the sand approach to this trail issue. Anyone ever been to Granville Island in Vancouver BC?? If so, you can't help but have noticed the cement plant (similar to our Salmon Bay Sand and Gravel) right in the middle of the incredibly busy and visited 'tourist' attractions nearby.

Or how about this site, which lists the Top 10 bicycling cities in the world.... guess what, 3 of the 10 are in Scandinavian countries, two in Norway

Of course it's possible for walkers, bicyclers, trucks, cars, trains to intermingle -- it's done right here in Ballard every day, and will continue to happen. Why a few business owners continue to fight this so vehemently remains a mystery to me -- safety issues compel one to build the trail, given the current conditions. As Julian points out, the City has bent over backwards to compromise to accommodate the busiest businesses, and has spent years meeting with individual business owners along the planned route and will be spending tons of money (our money) to give adjacent businesses new loading docks, better sight lines, improved driveway access, better drainage -- how much more can we or the City do??