Photo by Zachariah Bryan

Murray on Missing Link: Maybe not a good idea

Update

Mayoral Candidate Sen. Ed Murray issued a statement clarifying his position on the Missing Link.

In the statement, he still supports the current Environmental Impact Statement process to take a "second look" at the route, and he still expresses concerns about the effect on industrial businesses along Shilshole. (Though, strangely, he calls them "Lake Union industrial businesses," when they are actually along Salmon Bay.)

Here's the statement in full:

Yesterday I made some comments to the Seattle Times expressing concerns about safety issues related to the fact that bikes and trucks will have to share a narrow roadway in Ballard under the cycling community’s preferred option for completing the trail. I want to clarify those remarks, because reading them over I realize that my tone came off as overly skeptical regarding that option.

The Burke-Gilman is a treasured part of our regional trail system in Seattle and it is vital that we complete this ‘missing link.’ However, we must make sure the proposed route is the safest option for all users. The current proposal does place a multi-use trail through an industrial area, which raises some real safety concerns for users. I do not oppose the proposed route, but I think the Environmental Impact Statement process that is currently underway will provide an important ‘second look’ to make sure we make the best choice.

SDOT is now working on an EIS to survey the route between the Ballard Fred Meyer and the Locks along Shilshole. The alternative route proposed by some local business owners along Leary Ave NE onto Market St via a cycle track is not ideal either as it would not provide as direct a connection and is not a separate trail. My own preference is that we implement an engineered solution to the safety problem, one that uses the planned public right-of-way in Ballard but which channels the bike traffic and protects the entry points into the Lake Union industrial businesses. I believe the outcome of the current EIS will help us to reach a positive outcome that completes the trail in a timely way while protecting the safety of cyclists and the viability of local businesses.

Original

Sen. Ed Murray has spoken: He thinks the proposed route for the Burke-Gilman down Shilshole Ave is "potentially dangerous," according to Seattle Times' Jonathan Martin.

Taking an opposing stance against the route presents another dividing issue between Murray and Mayor Mike McGinn, who has been relentlessly for completing the Missing Link via Shilshole Ave. It also divides Murray from the Seattle City Council, who approved completion of the Missing Link in 2003.

Currently, the 1.5-mile-long Missing Link, which stretches from the Ballard Fred Meyer to the Ballard Locks, is the only segment of the Burke-Gilman which remains incomplete. This is due to litigation from Ballard businesses, led by Salmon Bay Gravel and Sand Co. and Ballard Oil, which have effectively stymied the process and forced the Seattle Department of Transportation to go back and do a full environmental impact statement. Efforts to complete the link have been going on for more than a decade.

Those familiar with the debate are familiar with the arguments of the Ballard businesses. The proposed route goes through too many driveways of industrial businesses, most of which use large semi-trucks, and it would only be a matter of time before a major accident happens.

Warren Aakervik has adamantly repeated the same refrain to Burke-Gilman boosters: "Nobody needs to get killed here."

However, while completion of the Missing Link remains in limbo, little is being done to fix the roads which have caused so many accidents -- from 2008 to 2011, emergency vehicles responded to 45 bicycle crashes between 11th Ave NW and Shilshole Ave NW (where the tire-catching train tracks are), making it the highest bicycle collision location in the city.

The most recent modification is being made through the South Ballard Corridor Safety Improvements Project. Most notably, they are installing advisory bicycle lanes -- the first of their kind in Seattle. (Right now the lanes are just sketched out with spray paint.)

Seattle Times' Martin sides with Murray in his concerns over the proposed Missing Link route (Seattle Times has endorsed Murray) and leans toward the business' preferred alternative: a cycle-track on Leary Ave NW and NW Market St. Martin has already written in favor of this route, calling it a "win-win-win."

However, Tom Fuculoro of Seattle Bike Blog, who endorsed McGinn, writes that Murray is on the wrong track on this subject.

He writes: "It appears Ed Murray has taken the wrong advice and has now come out in favor of more inaction. He has decided to reopen a debate that was tediously decided years ago. Make no mistake, there is no real debate on completing the Missing Link"

On the whole subject, Murray said to Martin, "There goes my bike support."

What do you think? Leave your opinion in the comments.

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