Michael Harthorne
Grace Crunican, director of the Seattle Department of Transportation, answers questions about a number of department projects at a June 23 meeting of the North Seattle Industrial Association.

Industrial leaders discontent with city projects

At the June 23 North Seattle Industrial Association meeting, industry leaders from the Ballard and Fremont area expressed their dissatisfaction over a number of Seattle Department of Transportation projects.

Grace Crunican, director of the department of transportation, fielded questions about the replacement of the Alaskan Way Viaduct, the Mercer Street project, upcoming changes to Nickerson Street, and the completion of the Burke-Gilman Trail.

There was disapproval from the meeting's attendees over the department's list of routes to access the future tunnel, including Aurora Avenue North to Dexter Avenue and Mercer Street, Elliott Avenue to Alaskan Way, and Elliott Avenue to Mercer Street.

Susie Burke, president of the Fremont Docking Company, was in particular disbelief over the idea that industrial trucks could use the Elliott to Mercer route.

"Oh God, you've got to be kidding me," she said.

Warren Aakervik, owner of Ballard Oil, expressed concern over bikes traveling on the east side of the new Alaskan Way and being hit by trucks attempting to turn right.

Crunican said the department is looking at putting in a two-direction bicycle track on the promenade side of Alaskan Way.

She said truck access took precedent over bike paths and nearly everything else, except for train tracks, in the viaduct replacement plan.

"God himself reports to the railroads," Crunican said.

Some attendees, especially those hauling hazardous materials not allowed in the proposed tunnel, feared that with the tunnel possibly charging a toll and I-5 being backed-up, too much traffic would make use of the Alaskan Way surface route.

The city plans to synchronize the lights to help traffic move more easily past the waterfront.

As a good-faith gesture, Eugene Wasserman, president of the North Seattle Industrial Association, said the city should sync the lights on Alaskan Way now because there is still at least six years before the proposed change occurs.

That plan is probably not feasible with the current state of Alaskan Way, Crunican said.

Crunican said the department of transportation will eventually need to install bike lanes on Nickerson Street. The department is going to run traffic analysis on a proposal that would leave one wide lane in each direction, instead of two lanes, with a middle lane for left turns.

Attendees at the meeting claimed that bicyclists do not need a bike lane on Nickerson, or even on Leary Way, because there are off-street bike trails nearby.

The completion of the Burke-Gilman Trail through Ballard, which will now be the subject of a lawsuit, drew some heated discussion.

The Seattle Office of the Hearing Examiner recently sided with the city against a coalition of industry groups to allow the trail to be completed.

Crunican said the department is not trying to shut down any industry and any further action by industry against the completion of the trail would be in the form of a lawsuit, which Wasserman said the association is working on.

"I'm in the business of all modes of transportation," Crunican said. "And, with the Burke-Gilman Trail, we've made our intentions clear."

Byron Cole, general manager of Ballard Terminal Railroad, said the city is making it hard for his business to succeed. The trail will take away thousands of square feet of his land where his money is made.

The June 23 meeting was the final meeting of the North Seattle Industrial Association until after its summer break.

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Byron Cole - revisionist history

mr cole rewrites history. he knows his bosses agreed that the city can and would build a trail within 'his' land. he operates on public land, and we can do whatever we want with it.