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caption: Former Mayor Mike McGinn, a biker booster, shakes hands with a campaign volunteer in this 2009 file photo.
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Former Mayor Mike McGinn, a biker booster, shakes hands with a campaign volunteer in this 2009 file photo.
Credit: Flickr Photo/Luke McGuff (CC BY-ND 2.0)

Plans for Burke-Gilman Trail's 'missing link'

If you have biked the Burke-Gilman Trail and suddenly found yourself lost on Ballard streets, you've experienced the ‘missing link’ on the trail.

The City of Seattle has released trail ideas for that area along the Ship Canal, between the Ballard Locks and 11th Avenue Northwest. The so-called 'missing link' has long been a topic of debate between maritime businesses and cyclists.

City officials first talked about extending the Burke-Gilman trail through Ballard when Charles Royer was mayor. That was 27 years ago.

This week the city released a draft review of options for that missing link. None of them completely separates bikes from cars. The plan lays out ideas for bike and pedestrian trails near the strip of industrial businesses along the Ship Canal.

The Cascade Bicycle Club says it's happy about this step forward, seeing plans on paper. But talk to Executive Director Elizabeth Kiker, and you get the feeling it's been a long haul.

Kiker: "I mean what we're eager for is construction, but sure first let's go to getting the city's approval and then let's go to scheduling construction and then let's go to getting it built.

"We want a safe, connected network that is accessible to all ages and abilities, and we want it built as soon as possible."

This latest set of plans is the result of a lawsuit filed by a group of maritime businesses along the Ship Canal, led by the North Seattle Industrial Association. The plan they supported is a curb separated cycle-track, which did not end up in the city's proposal.

Eugene Wasserman is president of the North Seattle Industrial Association.

Wasserman: "We thought that we had an agreement with the previous Mayor Mike McGinn, that they would look at our plans. Apparently they didn't study a cycle track. They discussed a multi-dimensional trail, which is not appropriate in an urban area like that, so we're very disappointed."

He says the city's plan puts bikes too close to large trucks, which could cause a liability risk for businesses. Wasserman's attorney Joshua Brower this whole thing could end up in court again.

The city will have public hearings next month and take comments on the plan until Aug. 1. The soonest the ‘missing link’ could be completed is 2018.