The Burke-Gilman Trail is more than a regional treasure; it is a major transportation, recreation and nature corridor and the most heavily used trail in Washington. But as you’ve likely experienced, for 1.7 miles the trail passes through the University of Washington (UW) campus and it becomes challenging and stressful, especially for those of us on bikes.
People walk across the trail at all sorts of catawampus intersections. Short sightlines make it hard to see. It’s just plain crowded with people walking and bicycling to the point of being dangerous for everyone.
Fortunately, the UW has applied for a federal grant that would fund rebuilding the entire 1.7 segment through campus in time for the opening of the UW light rail station in 2016. But this grant is highly competitive and judged in part on community support. Every one of us needs to show our support if we want to help the UW rebuild the trail.
Look, the Burke-Gilman trail through the UW campus is already crowded, and it’s only going to get worse unless we do something. In fact, studies from the UW indicate that by 2030, this section of the trail will see a 92 percent increase in the number of pedestrian trips during peak hours and a 238 percent increase in the number of bicycle trips.
That’s why the UW has already started working on a small portion of the trail and is currently assembling funding to fully rebuild the entire 1.7 miles.
While the UW has a great start on funding for this project, they’re trying to secure the last-dollar-in by applying for a TIGER grant, a highly competitive federal grant in which only about 4 percent of applicants win. Projects from the Puget Sound region have won in all four rounds of TIGER grants thus far; however, none of these projects were exclusively biking and walking projects. This project would be a game-changer.
The proposed project1 will serve as a model for pedestrian and bike trails nationwide, including new standards for protecting people walking and bicycling, interchange design and long-term durability. In fact, the Rails to Trails Conservancy is partnering with the UW to research trail use before and after project completion as part of a nationwide study on trail improvements and their effects. But none of this will happen unless we show our support.