The section of the Burke-Gilman Trail between 15th Avenue NE and Rainier Vista, which had been closed for construction since October 2015, is now open! North-south connections in the area, including the Hitchcock Bridge over NE Pacific Street, reopened at the same time, on Aug. 8.
This highly used section of trail, owned by the University of Washington, has been totally remade. The trail has doubled in width to accommodate increasing capacity levels with the opening of UW Station nearby. Other improvements include separate pathways, on separate grades, for people walking and people biking – making for a smoother, safer trip no matter how you’re using the trail. As on the Rainier Vista underpass section of the trail, if you’re walking, use the concrete sidewalk; if you’re biking, use the asphalt track.
The new trail is safer in other ways, too. Intersections with other pathways are more clearly indicated, both for people using the trail and people crossing it, with grade and surface material changes to cue trail users. The trail will be more well-lit at night, with new overhead LED lights installed along the entire new section. It also has more blue emergency phones.
In short, the new trail will provide a safer, more comfortable experience, with room for more people to use it safely.
That’s important, because the number of people using it is expected to soar in the coming years. This section of trail connects people to the UW campus, the heart of the University District, UW Medical Center and the new UW Station. Thanks to the University Link extension, ridership on Link light rail has grown by more than 80 percent since last year. And the new SR 520 bridge walking and biking path is set to connect to Montlake Boulevard NE in summer 2017. Plus, a new Life Sciences Complex is scheduled to open along the trail in 2018.
Another piece of this project is the construction of a new secure bike house in parking lot C10, near the T-wing bridge. We expect that construction to be complete sometime in August. UW faculty, staff and students interested in using the bike house for bike parking can email firstname.lastname@example.org to get on our waiting list.
As you might know, the Washington State Legislature and Gov. Jay Inslee awarded the UW $16 million in their 2015 transportation package to make similar renovations to the trail on the east end of campus, from Rainier Vista all the way north to NE 47th Street. In the package, the BGT project is listed as a “Priority 3” project, with the funding scheduled for between 2021 and 2025. In the short term, the UW is committed to preserving the entire 1.7 miles of UW-owned trail.
We encourage everyone to get outside in this beautiful summer weather and experience the newly reopened BGT for a taste of the improved trail that the UW and the region will enjoy for years to come.
This post has been updated since its original publication – to reflect the fact that the Burke-Gilman Trail is now open!