SEATTLE -- Tricked out in red blinking lights and helmets, cyclists, runners and others who use the Burke Gilman Trail rallied to finish the trail's missing link. The project has been held up by litigation filed by the Ballard Chamber of Commerce and a coalition of businesses. Both groups want the missing link fixed, they just differ on how and at what cost.
The missing link is a one and a half mile gap between 11th Avenue NW and the Ballard Locks. Trail users are forced to run or ride along Shilshole Avenue NW which has no bike path or sidewalk. Trucks and trailers roll onto and along the avenue, which is lined with industrial businesses.
"We've definitely had near misses with cars and I always have the jitters riding down this way," said Kim Hartley. She and her children were among the one hundred or so people at the rally near Shilshole and NW Dock Street.
"The City's been planning it for 20 years," said Kevin Carrabine of Friends of the Burke Gilman Trail. "The money's there, shovel ready, let's just do it."
But another coalition of local industries and the Ballard Chamber of Commerce has filed an appeal saying the surface trail would eliminate 140 parking spaces while still putting cyclists and runners in harm's way. They propose the City build an overhead viaduct.
"It woud give people precisely what they want, which is an uninterrupted trail" said Beth Miller, Executive Director of the Chamber. " It would, quite frankly, give people some really nice views of our wonderful working waterfront on Salmon Bay."
The issue has come up in the race for Seattle Mayor. Joe Mallahan said there's nothing to do but await a resolution to the litigation. "I wish there were a place up in the neighborhood where you can get around that small stretch of about 10 blocks," he said.
Mike McGinn replied, "He (Mallahan) wishes they could move the trail somewhere else. I think we need to complete the trail as planned, as approved and as funded."
The City has about $9 million dollars for the project which cannot start until the litigation is resolved. It's currently set for a hearing next summer.