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The Burke-Gilman Multimodal Connector (BGMC) is the result of regional vision and collaboration. It has been envisioned and supported by the state, region, city, university community, transit users, businesses and thousands of pedestrians and bicyclists who use the regional trail network anchored by the Burke-Gilman Trail.

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SDOT understands what it takes to have a successful project. This project meets and exceeds all TIGER criteria. It is absolutely essential these changes to the trail are made. Successful completion of the Burke-Gilman Multimodal Connector will encourage the use of non-motorized transportation options, reduce harmful greenhouse gas emissions, and will serve as a world-class active transportation system.”

— Peter Hahn, (former) Director, Seattle Department of Transportation (SDOT)

Jurisdictional and stakeholder collaboration

Regional partnerships:

The BGMC is the outcome of a robust planning process as part of a broader regional planning process that has spanned almost two decades.

  • - 1996: Light rail linking the Seattle central business district and University of Washington was included in Sound Transit’s first package of transit investments approved by voters in 1996 in large part for its connectivity to the UW and to the regional Burke-Gilman Trail.
  • - 2008: Following direction from the Washington State Legislature (ESSB 6099), the UW, WSDOT, Sound Transit and King County Metro Transit developed a SR 520 High Capacity Transit Plan which included key components of the Montlake Multimodal Center.
  • - 2010: WSDOT and FHWA announced the preferred alternative for the SR 520, I-5 to Median Bridge replacement and HOV Project, which included enhanced non-motorized connections in the project area, assuming connection to the Burke-Gilman Trail.
  • - 2010: Washington state lawmakers directed WSDOT through Senate Bill 6392 to study and make recommendations for alternate connections to transit in the Montlake area.
  • - 2010: The Washington State Legislature directed WSDOT to refine designs for the SR 520 corridor and the multimodal hub at the Montlake Triangle, connecting SR 520 and light rail to the trail. This included a charrette process with several partner agencies, including the UW (Department of Regional Affairs, Architectural Committee and Board of Regents), WSDOT, King County Metro Transit, Sound Transit and the City of Seattle (Department of Transportation, Seattle Design Commission, Seattle City Council, and briefings with Seattle Pedestrian Advisory Committee and Seattle Bicycle Advisory Board). The groups worked together to evaluate various options for improving pedestrian connections and bus and bicycle/trail facilities. This work led to a shared understanding and regional vision for the BGMC.
  • - 2010: The UW initiated a study to assess the Burke-Gilman Trail’s state of repair and ability to sustain the travel volumes anticipated in the Montlake Triangle charrette, Sound Transit ridership projections, Puget Sound Regional Council’s growth projections for the University Community Urban Center (UCUC), and City of Seattle and UW mode shift projections. Input from community presentations confirmed the observable failing condition and, combined with growth projections, guided the development of the corridor study.
  • - 2011: WSDOT, Sound Transit and the UW executed a formal agreement for the Montlake Triangle, and published their “Montlake Triangle Charrette White Paper” which recommended widening the trail.
  • - 2011: UW initiated a corridor planning and design process to create a path for enacting the recommendations of the corridor study and began an intensive public engagement effort to bring community stakeholders into the planning and design processes. Local nonprofits including Cascade Bicycle Club, Commute Seattle, Feet First, the Bicycle Alliance of Washington, Friends of the Burke-Gilman Trail, university-area community councils, individual businesses, the University District Chamber of Commerce, Northeast District Council, the City’s Bicycle Advisory Board and Pedestrian Advisory Board, and a range of other stakeholders were engaged and their feedback was incorporated into the design process. Public input was married with expert counsel from agency partners SDOT, King County Metro Transit and Sound Transit.

King County Executive Dow Constantine talks about the project and its regional significance.

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At Seattle Children’s we believe that livable streets and safe, accessible active transportation choices will be a significant contributor to public health, reducing individual and social costs. This project will be an important part of delivering on that promise.”

- Paulo Nunes-Ueno

Funding partnerships:

The BGMC is being funded through strong partnership and has the following non-federal funding contributions in addition to funds from the UW:

As evidenced by the BGMC’s funding partners, the tremendous value of this transportation investment is recognized by a broadly interdisciplinary coalition including public utilities, medical centers, advocacy groups, transit agencies and the UW (an institution of higher education) and has attracted regional and national support.

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“These projects assumed the UW’s portion of the Burke-Gilman trail would be replaced to accommodate and incorporate the dramatic increase in pedestrian and bicycle traffic. It is imperative that the success and growth of Washington state’s flagship University is not stunted by lack of investment in transportation infrastructure. A well-balanced, multimodal transportation system is key to ensuring the UW’s success, and investment in the Burke-Gilman Multimodal Connector achieves this goal.”

- Seattle Mayor Mike McGinn and the Seattle City Council

Regional support:

The entire Puget Sound region has come together for the delivery of this important project. Elected officials from all levels of government have prioritized this project, including Senator Patty Murray, many members of Washington’s congressional delegation, Governor Jay Inslee and 22 state legislators, the King County Executive and Council, the Seattle Mayor and Seattle City Council, and other regional cities that connect to the regional trail and transit systems through this corridor.

This leadership is complemented by unprecedented community support from environmental and labor organizations, local community groups and the business community. Groups that support livable communities and environmental protection, such as Transportation Choices Coalition, Puget Sound Clean Air Agency, the Stockholm Environmental Institute, the Urban Land Institute, Public Health Seattle and King County, Cascade Bicycle Club and countless others are all devoting time and energy to ensure that this project is successful.

These groups are joined by economic drivers in our community, including the University Village (an organization of 107 businesses), the University District Chamber of Commerce (incorporating 130 businesses), the Greater Seattle Chamber of Commerce, the Downtown Seattle Association, REI, Vulcan Inc., Wells Fargo, Microsoft and many others. What is most compelling, and is the greatest testimonial, is the 6,000 and growing list of individual supporters who have taken the time to write in to support these efforts.

The showing of support from the region is a demonstration of the importance of this project and the remarkable breadth and cohesiveness of the partnerships that have formed around it. With the award of a TIGER V grant, we can deliver a project that replaces a failing but critical link in our regional infrastructure, benefits the community, enhances economic stability and growth, and stimulates an environmentally beneficial and vital transportation corridor.

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“New light rail stations, high-density residential living, and expansions of the bicycle and pedestrian networks continue to transform the region and encourage walking and bicycling. The connector complements these efforts by creating a world-class transportation recreation, and nature corridor in the heart of the region.”

- Bob Drewel, Executive Director, Puget Sound Regional Council

Disciplinary integration

The BGMC is part of a broader vision for the growth of our region. It directly implements and significantly supports elements of the region’s economic development plans, housing development efforts, land-use plans and policies, and sustainable community plans.

Sustainable communities:

The Puget Sound region, in which the project resides, has been designated as a Preferred Sustainable Community by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development and was awarded a $5 million Sustainable Communities Regional Planning grant in 2010. Funding from this grant is being used to develop the Equity Network, a regional Transit Oriented Development vision, Transit Corridor Action Strategies, affordable housing planning and other programs that will benefit areas around light rail stations. UW is a project partner for this grant. The trail is a principal arterial for nonmotorized transportation in the UCUC, an area which will be home to two light rail stations.

The Puget Sound Regional Council’s Growth Management Plan (VISION 2040) and Metropolitan Transportation Plan (Transportation 2040) focus growth (people and jobs) in designated centers to improve transportation efficiency – including increasing the use of transit, biking and walking, and improving the balance between jobs and housing. The UCUC is a designated center with an estimated employment of 32,480. The UW alone has 26,219 faculty and staff and 42,036 students in the UCUC. The BGMC will directly encourage transportation energy efficiency and improve the environment, as well as support economic development in the UCUC.

Seattle Bicycle Master Plan

The City of Seattle Bicycle Master Plan (BMP) was adopted in 2007 and is the blueprint for making improvements to Seattle’s bicycle network. The BMP’s focus is on expanding bicycle facilities on the city’s street network and for completing Seattle’s well-known urban bicycle trail system, including the Burke-Gilman Trail. The stated goal is to triple the amount of bicycling in Seattle between 2007 and 2017. The Burke-Gilman Multimodal Connector TIGER application is among the single most significant investments that can be made to realize this goal.

Seattle Pedestrian Master Plan

The City of Seattle Pedestrian Master Plan (PMP) is a long-term action plan to make Seattle the most walkable city in the nation. The plan establishes the policies, programs, design criteria and projects that will further enhance pedestrian safety, comfort and access in all of Seattle’s neighborhoods. Through the PMP, Seattle strives to make its transportation system more environmentally, economically and socially sustainable. The BGMC will create a facility that is truly welcoming for pedestrians of all ages and abilities to meet their transportation and physical activity needs.

University Area Transportation Action Strategy (UATAS):

In 2008 the City of Seattle completed a broadly-based collaborative planning process that identified the most urgent projects in the UCUC and the principles, questions and concepts that would guide future planning. The BGMC directly incorporates solutions from, and offers additional solutions to problems identified in, the UATAS.

Seattle Housing Authority (SHA):

The largest provider of low-income housing assistance in Seattle, SHA purposefully located three of their properties in proximity to the Burke-Gilman Trail to ensure that their senior tenants, who rely primarily on walking for transportation, had access to local amenities in a safe walkable environment. As part of its 2011-2015 Strategic Plan, SHA prioritized assisting housing participants in gaining access to education and employment opportunities so they can improve their lives. The BGMC will greatly enhance the safety and comfort of seniors walking along the Burke-Gilman Trail as they access the education and employment opportunities at the UW.

University District Livability Partnership:

In January 2013, the University District Livability Partnership released the Strategic Plan for Seattle’s University District, funded through the Office of Economic Development, as part of the Only In Seattle neighborhood business district revitalization initiative. This is the result of more than a year of stakeholder participation and meetings. The plan identified direct access to the Burke-Gilman Trail as a feature that could be marketed to enhance the neighborhood’s competitive edge. The BGMC will dramatically increase the draw created by this facility.

King County Strategic Plan for Public Transportation:

In July of 2011, King County Metro Transit adopted a 20-year strategic plan for public transportation which lays forth the county’s goals, objectives and strategies for connecting people to jobs, schools and services. This visionary plan commits King County Metro to supporting bicycle and pedestrian access to jobs, services and the transit system – as a key strategy for efficiently extending the reach of the transit system and supporting economic growth. This strategic plan also aims to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by shifting single-occupant drivers to other modes. The BGMC and the entire Burke-Gilman Trail corridor are essential tools for achieving both of these countywide goals over the next 20 years.