Burke-Gilman Trail Missing Link

Updated: April 29, 2024

What’s happening now?

In 2021, we refined the scope and construction timeline of the project to implement major safety infrastructure elements while minimizing project delays and expenses. The refined project was determined to be exempt from SEPA and subsequently issued a shoreline permit. Both actions were appealed to the Washington State Shorelines Hearings Board in November 2022.

In late June 2023, the Shorelines Hearings Board issued their decision. You can review the decision by downloading the document here. The City and the appellants both appealed portions of this decision in August 2023. The case has bypassed the Thurston County Superior Court and is now at the Court of Appeals. Litigation is ongoing.

Burke-Gilman Trail Missing Link Alternative Study

Councilmember Dan Strauss and Mayor Bruce Harrell have requested that SDOT study an alternative route for connecting the Burke-Gilman Missing Link through Ballard. That study is being led by a separate SDOT project team and information can be found by clicking on this link.


The Burke-Gilman Trail Missing Link refers to the long-planned multi-use trail safety improvements along 1.4 miles of Salmon Bay east of the Ballard Locks connecting the two existing sections of the Burke-Gilman Trail in Ballard. 

Phase 1 and 2 map

The trail currently serves hundreds of people walking and riding bikes along the corridor every day. The City has worked with the Ballard community on this critical safety investment since 2001 and included a commitment to complete the project as a part of the voter-approved Levy to Move Seattle. Legal challenges paused construction on the Missing Link, while other pieces of the Ballard Multimodal Corridor Project (Including street paving, traffic signal improvements, transit infrastructure, and new sidewalk construction) were completed. If you'd like to learn more about the design process for both projects, visit our project library below to review revised 100% design documents, event summaries, and the full Design Phase Outreach Summary.  

Cross Sections 

The cross sections below show the existing and proposed conditions for work on NW 45th St, Shilshole Ave NW, NW Market St, and NW 54th St. 


Click this link to download a PDF showing all of the cross sections below

Proposed work on Shilshole Ave

Proposed work on Shilshole Ave

Proposed work on NW Market St

Cross section showing area of proposed work on NW 54th St

Schedule 2019 - 2023 

Construction for the Burke-Gilman Trail Missing Link is anticipated to begin in  2023.

History of the Burke-Gilman Trail Project

The Burke-Gilman Trail is a regional, mixed-use facility that runs east from Golden Gardens Park in Seattle to the Sammamish River Trail in Bothell. The 20-mile trail serves as a major transportation corridor for commuters and recreational users. The trail is complete except for a 1.4-mile segment through the Ballard neighborhood, known as the "Missing Link." The Missing Link has been included in the City's comprehensive plan since the early 1990s and is identified as one of the City of Seattle's top-rated trail priorities in the 2014 Bicycle Master Plan. The City is committed to completing the Missing Link fulfill its commitment to the community and to be most efficient with taxpayer dollars. 

Throughout the environmental review process, SDOT sought input from the community on potential routes and impacts through events and formal comment periods. Commenters on the Missing Link Project's Draft Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) expressed a strong preference for placing the route along Shilshole Ave NW. Of the over 4,400 comments received on the Draft EIS, 77% noted preference for the Shilshole South Alternative. However, a number of comments expressed concerns over placing the trail in front of the industrial and water-dependent businesses along the Shilshole corridor.

To inform SDOT's selection of a preferred corridor, SDOT further consulted with the local maritime, industrial, freight, bicycle, and pedestrian communities to select the Preferred Alternative, a combination of the Shilshole South and Shilshole North Alternatives. To learn more, read the project's frequently asked questions and answers

Completing the Burke-Gilman Trail will create a complete and predictable corridor that enhances safety for pedestrians, trucks, bicycles, and cars. 

Conversations with stakeholders, property owners, and business owners during design of the Missing Link highlighted many opportunities to partner with other agencies and enhance streets adjacent to the trail. 

Public Involvement

The Burke-Gilman Trail Missing Link and other multimodal improvements went through extensive environmental review that provided the community with many opportunities to learn more about potential route options and submit comments. In addition to outreach to key stakeholders and community groups throughout the environmental phase, public open houses were held in 2013, 2015, and 2016 to solicit input from the broader community on the Missing Link Project. 

Design Advisory Committee

Throughout the design of the Missing Link Corridor, SDOT convened a Design Advisory Committee (DAC) to bring additional stakeholder perspectives. The DAC was convened following the completion of the final environmental review and the City's selection of a preferred route. DAC members met between May 2017 - September 2018 to provide feedback on SDOT's preferred alignment to improve trail design and balance the safety and needs of all users.  For more information, see the DAC work plan and Business Owner Workshops.

Property and Business Owner Workshops 

In late June and early July 2017, the SDOT design team hosted workshops for business and property owners adjacent to the trail. SDOT held a follow-up workshop in late September 2017 to review the input received at previous workshops and to highlight changes implemented based on property and business owners' feedback.

The Project History documents much of the public involvement associated with the Missing Link, including past reports and designs.

Project Cost

The Burke-Gilman Trail Missing Link budget is approximately $7.4M and is funded by the Levy to Move Seattle and Seattle City Light. This cost covers 1.4 miles of trail plus roadway paving, lighting (street and pedestrian-scale), drainage infrastructure, intersection and driveway crossing infrastructure (RRFBs and Driveway Warning Systems), pedestrian improvements, and landscaping.

Environmental Review

As described As described above, the design of the Burke-Gilman Trail Missing Link project was recently refined. The redesigned project meets SEPA exemption criteria and does not require a threshold determination or EIS.  

As previously designed, the original project was subject to SEPA review, and SDOT completed an Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) that fulfilled the SEPA requirement. The Final EIS was published in 2017 with an addendum issued in 2019. While not applicable to the redesigned project, the SEPA EIS and addendum can be viewed using the links below.   

Review the Final EIS.

Review the Final EIS Addendum.

Printed copies of the Final EIS Executive Summary are available to the public at no charge. Printed copies of the Final EIS, comment responses, and technical appendices are available for purchase by calling (206) 775-8715 or emailing BGTMissingLink@Seattle.gov.


Phase 1 and 2 Design

Burke-Gilman Trail Missing Link Design Phase Documents 

Design Phase Property Owner, Business Owner, and Public Events

37 briefings and meetings, 6 in-person public events, 1 self guided walking tour with over 530 attendees, 7 notification emails to over 240 recipients, 3 local fairs and festivals with over 370 attendees, over 300 flyers distributed, 31,300 mailers sent, 12 social media posts to over 260,000 followers, two 14-day, 24/7 online open house with over 800 visitors, and design materials provided at 8 local gathering places.

Design phase outreach

Conceptual Design Segment Workshop series for adjacent property and business owners

Conceptual Design Outreach (July 2017)

Schematic Design Outreach (October 2017)

Below is a basic timeline of the project. For a history of the whole Burke-Gilman Trail, visit its history page.


Ballard Terminal Railroad signs 30-year lease with City of Seattle for use of tracks

Seattle City Council Ordinance 118734

Operating Agreement


Council directs SDOT to evaluate up to three alternative routes for completing the missing link in the BGT, engage with residential, business and bike/trail advocacy groups, and develop a project work plan. This became the Ballard Corridor Design Study.

Seattle City Council Resolution 30408


Ballard Corridor Design Study public involvement

A Project Advisory Committee is established to provide guidance and input throughout the study. The SDOT team also meets with 11 community groups in early 2002, and holds a public open house on November 19, attended by approximately 500 people.


SDOT completes the Ballard Corridor Design Study
Executive Summary
Design Study
Appendix A: Conceptual Design Plans (Recommendation)
Appendix B1, B2, and B3: Cost Estimates (All Options)
Appendix B4 and B5: Cost Estimates (Recommendation)
Appendix C: Conceptual Design Plans (Open House)
Appendix D: Missing Link History
Appendix E: Cross Section Guide
Appendix F: Parking Data
Appendix G1: Green Route Photos
Appendix G2: Red Route Photos
Appendix G3: Blue Route Photos
Comments from 2002 Open House

As the culmination of the Ballard Corridor Design Study and public process, the City Council adopts Resolution 30583, which identifies the route along which SDOT shall develop the trail.

Seattle City Council Resolution 30583


City of Seattle adopts the 2007 Bicycle Master Plan, which recommends completing the Burke-Gilman Trail through Ballard.

2007 Bicycle Master Plan


November 15 First Design Proposal Open House (~70 attendees)
Board 1 Board 2 Board 3 Board 4
Full list of public comments received at Open House


October 15 Second Design Proposal Open House (~40 attendees)
Full list of public comments received at Open House


SDOT conducts environmental review of the chosen alignment and issues a Determination of Non-Significance.

SEPA Checklist
Geotech Report
Traffic Report
Cultural Resources Report
HazMat report
Parking Report
No Effect Letter


Pursuant to an order from the King County Superior Court, SDOT completes additional environmental review and issues a Revised Determination of Non-Significance

Revised SEPA checklist
Shilshole Cultural Resources
Shilshole Geotech
Shilshole Hazmat
Shilshole No Effect Letter
Shilshole Parking
Shilshole Traffic
Revised DNS


Pursuant to an order from the King County Superior Court, SDOT further develops the trail design and reissues the Revised Determination of Non-Significance
Reissued Revised DNS
Shilshole Design Information
Memorandum from City Traffic Engineer


City of Seattle Hearing Examiner determines that an environmental impact statement (EIS) should be prepared to address traffic hazard impacts along the Shilshole Segment of the trail. SDOT decides to conduct a full EIS for the project, including the evaluation of different alternatives.


SDOT issues a Scoping Notice for the EIS and hosts a meeting on August 8 to solicit public comment on the scope and alternatives to be considered in the proposed Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) (~90 attendees)
Scoping Notice


The City's Bicycle Master Plan is updated, which identifies the BGT Missing Link as one of Seattle's top trail priorities
2014 Bicycle Master Plan


SDOT hires Environmental Services Associates to prepare the EIS


May - Environmental Services Associates completes their summary of comments received from the public during the EIS scoping process.

June 18 – An open house was held at the Ballard High School Cafeteria, 1418 NW 65th Street between 6 and 8 PM to share the three alternative routes to be studied during the EIS, as well as the elements to be considered.
June 18 Boards
June 18 Fact Sheet
June 18, 2015 Open House Summary


June 16 – The Draft Environmental Impact Statement (DEIS) was published.

Draft EIS 

Complete Document
Cover Letter
Fact Sheet
EIS Executive Summary
Table of Contents
Chapter 1 Project History and Alternatives
Chapter 2 Geology, Soils and Hazardous Materials
Chapter 3 Fish, Wildlife, and Vegetation
Chapter 4 Land Use
Chapter 5 Recreation
Chapter 6 Utilities
Chapter 7 Transportation
Chapter 8 Parking
Chapter 9 Air Quality and Greenhouse Gas Emissions
Chapter 10 Cultural Resources
Chapter 11 Cumulative Impacts
Chapter 12 References
Chapter 13 List of Preparers
Chapter 14 Distribution List
Appendix A Hazardous Materials Databases Reviewed
Appendix B Emission Estimates Tabulations
Technical Appendix A Land Use Discipline Report
Technical Appendix B Transportation Discipline Report
Technical Appendix C Parking Discipline Report
Technical Appendix D Cultural Resources Discipline Report
Technical Appendix E Economic Considerations Report

July 14 & 16 – Open houses are held, with over 270 people attending.

August 1 – The comment period on the DEIS ends. SDOT receives over 4,000 comments in letters, cards, emails and other submissions.


February 15 - SDOT announces that the Ballard and Leary alternatives have been dropped from further consideration in the Final EIS in testimony before the Sustainability & Transportation Committee.


May 25 – The Final Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) is published.

The Final EIS

Complete Document
Cover Letter
Fact Sheet
Final EIS Executive Summary
Table of Contents
Chapter 1: Project History and Alternatives
Chapter 2: Geology, Soils, and Hazardous Materials
Chapter 3: Fish, Wildlife, and Vegetation
Chapter 4: Land Use
Chapter 5: Recreation
Chapter 6: Utilities
Chapter 7: Transportation
Chapter 8: Parking
Chapter 9: Air Quality and Greenhouse Gas Emissions
Chapter 10: Cultural Resources
Chapter 11: Cumulative Impacts
Chapter 12: References
Chapter 13: List of Preparers
Chapter 14: Distribution List
Appendix A – AutoTURN Analysis
Appendix B – Hazardous Materials Databases Reviewed
Appendix C – Emissions Estimates Tabulations
Draft EIS Comments and Responses – Part 1
Draft EIS Comments and Responses – Part 2
Draft EIS Comments and Responses – Part 3
Technical Appendix A – Updates and Errata to the Land Use Discipline Report
Technical Appendix B – Transportation Discipline Report
Technical Appendix C – Parking Discipline Report

July 10-12, 2017 - Online open house is held, with over 500 unique users

July 13, 2017 - Open house is held, with over 70 people attending

October 12, 2017 - open house is held, with over 90 people attending

October 14, 2017 - Self-guided walking tour is held, with over 200 people attending

October 9-23 - Online open house is held, with over 200 unique users


July 12 - Notice of Action is signed for the Burke-Gilman Trail Missing Link project 

September 13 - Project reaches 95% design

October 10 - Phase 1 of construction goes to bid

Litigation - SDOT completed a full EIS for the entire project to leave no question of the project’s compliance with SEPA. This EIS was upheld by the Hearing Examiner in January 2018. The Coalition appealed the Hearing Examiner’s decision to King County Superior Court. In December 2018, the King County Superior Court ruled that the EIS was adequate in almost all respects, including potential traffic hazards and safety hazards; however, the court also concluded that the analysis was missing the disclosure of potential adverse economic impacts resulting from potential bicycle and vehicle interactions. SDOT disagreed with the portion of the ruling requiring additional economic analysis and appealed it to the State Court of Appeals. While SDOT disagreed with this portion of the King County Superior Court ruling, to make every effort to deliver this project, SDOT performed the required additional economic analysis and issued an addendum to the EIS in April 2019.


In 2020, the Court of Appeals consolidated and ruled on appeals brought by SDOT and the Coalition. The Court of Appeals did not rule on the adequacy of the EIS or whether the additional economic analysis ordered by KCSC was appropriate under SEPA. Instead, the Court of Appeals decision was based solely on a procedural disclosure error of the Hearing Examiner and resulted in a remand of the EIS back to the City. This decision had nothing to do with SDOT’s procedural or substantive compliance with SEPA.


Greg Spotts, Director
Address: 700 5th Ave, Suite 3800, Seattle, WA, 98104
Mailing Address: PO Box 34996, Seattle, WA, 98124-4996
Phone: (206) 684-7623

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