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Public Comments Pouring In On Preferred Option For Burke Gilman Trail’s 'Missing Link'

There’s just one week left for the public to comment on preferred alternatives for completion of the missing link in Seattle’s Burke Gilman Trail. The nearly 20-mile trail extends from Ballard to Bothell and is one of the region’s most popular bike routes.

The missing link of the trail is a mile-and-a-half stretch through one of Ballard’s most industrial parts: the Salmon Bay waterfront. Concern about conflicts between bikes and trucks in the area has led to lawsuits against the city, which have delayed completion of the trail for about twenty years now.

But the status quo isn’t safe, says Mark Durall, one of several local volunteers who have set up an information booth at the Ballard Farmers Market.  He works at the Olympic Athletic Club near the trail.

“I initially got involved and decided to volunteer my time because we’ve had so many customers and coworkers here that have been injured trying to navigate through the missing link,” Durall said. 

He says they've gone through several first aid kits, tending to everything from scrapes to broken bones when bike tires get hung up on railroad tracks. But most of that will be avoided once the city is able to implement safety improvements with the missing link.

“You know, this is a trail for everybody. And it’s really important for us to complete this trail because if we don’t, people are going to continue to get hurt down there,” Durall said.

He says several thousand comment letters have been collected at his booth so far. He hopes that will finally ensure completion of the project. 

Mark Mazzola, the Seattle Department of Transportation’s environmental manager,  says planning for the missing link first started in the late '90s. But it’s been tied up in litigationtill now. 

“So it’s just been a long time coming and I think there’s been a lot of people interested in it and a lot of people behind trying to complete the trail and of course a lot of passion by the businesses and industries there, about the solution that they think is better,” Mazzola said. 

Credit Courtesy City of Seattle Dept of Transporation

Comments will be accepted through August 1. 

There are four alternatives, two running along Shilshole Avenue, one on Leary Way and one on Ballard Avenue. The city’s environmental impact statement compares the four alternatives, looking at everything from how much parking they will eliminate to the number of street crossings they have. 

The city is expected to choose one early next year. 

Bellamy Pailthorp covers the environment for KNKX with an emphasis on climate justice, human health and food sovereignty. She enjoys reporting about how we will power our future while maintaining healthy cultures and livable cities. Story tips can be sent to