Road safety improvements, EIS announced for Missing Link

Another day, another episode in the Missing Link saga.

Yesterday, Mayor Mike McGinn held a press conference with City Councilman Tom Rasmussen and Seattle Department of Transportation officials to announce upcoming road safety improvements for streets and intersections in Ballard.

As you already know from when we last updated on the Missing Link, $300,000 has been allocated for the 2013-14 budget to move ahead on a full Environmental Impact Statement of the Missing Link corridor, a gap in the Burke-Gilman trail stretching from the Ballard Fred Meyer to the Ballard Locks. In 2008, a limited environmental review was conducted and determined the proposed Missing Link route, which would go along Shilshole Ave NW, would have a non-significant impact.

However, businesses in the area, including Ballard Oil and Salmon Bay Gravel Co., have worked to impede the Missing Link, citing safety concerns and freight traffic that moves through Shilshole Ave NW. Representatives of the businesses have previously stated to the Ballard News-Tribune that they would like another route considered.

Siding with the business appellants earlier this year -- which include Ballard Oil and Salmon Bay Gravel Co. -- reversed the SEPA Determination of Non-Significance, effectively ordering SDOT to re-review the Missing Link before moving forward.

According to the Mayor's Office, city records show there were 45 bicycle crashes that were responded to on NW 45th St between 11th Ave NW and Shilshole Avenue NW in a four year period, from 2008 to 2011. The area, part of the Missing Link, is the highest bicycle collision location in the city.

So, while the EIS is conducted and until the solution to the Missing Link is figured out, the Mayor announced a number of safety improvements that will take place in the meantime, to be built in 2013 or 2014. Improvements include:

• Advisory bicycle lanes on NW 45th Street and other safety improvements on that section of roadway

• Installation of striping and signage to create a traffic island and a 4-way stop at Ballard Avenue NW and 17th Avenue NW

• Striping and signage at NW 48th Street and Ballard Avenue NW to improve vehicular line of sight and slow speeds.

• Shoulder maintenance and replacement along degraded sections of the shoulder along Shilshole Avenue NW.

• Installation of a curb ramp to allow bicycles access to the sidewalk to queue for the existing bike lane headed north on 24th Avenue NW at the intersection of Shilshole Avenue NW / 24th Avenue NW and NW Market Street. Current conditions provide very limited queuing space for bicycles.

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