Long-term quantitative benefits
The Burke-Gilman Trail Multi-Modal Connector (BGC) represents a critical opportunity to convert a deteriorating and over-capacity bicycle and pedestrian corridor into a safe, accessible and multi-modal transportation facility that will connect existing and future users to active and sustainable transportation options using innovative design. This table presents a summary of benefits and costs for the BGC, which is estimated to provide $25.5 million to $66.3 million in net benefits assuming 7% and 3% discount rates, respectively. All benefits and costs have been discounted to the year 2013, per NOFA requirements1.
1 - The demand forecasting process for this analysis considered previously published forecasts of future pedestrian and bicycle user volumes and applied seasonality based on data from several bike facilities in the area and in the Northwest. Without improvement, it was assumed that pedestrians continue to use the facility and eventually begin to crowd out bicyclists during peak periods. These bicyclists who are crowded out become new facility users under the build scenario, with benefits applied because they would otherwise not be on the facility. By separating bicycle and pedestrian modes, the new facility considerably increases the capacity of the trail on the UW campus.
2 - Deducts $2,400,000 in project costs associated with the electrical duct bank beneath the trail that are also excluded from benefit calculations.
In addition to the long-term benefits described above, the BGC also results in considerable short-term job creation. Based on a near-term economic impacts analysis utilizing IMPLAN, the BGC creates 478 job-years, including 294 direct/indirect job-years and 184 induced job-years.
Long-term qualitative benefits
A number of long-term benefits associated with the BGC are omitted from the quantitative analysis detailed above, but nevertheless provide substantial qualitative benefits in terms of safety, environmental sustainability and livability.
The National Cooperative Highway Research Program (NCHRP) Report 552, Guidelines for Analysis of Investments in Bicycle Facilities, recommends against monetizing the reduction of accidents in the benefit-cost analysis. However, the BGC’s safety improvements are unquestionable and will contribute to a much safer experience for trail users and drivers on intersecting arterials. Poor intersection design throughout the trail has led to nearly 70 reported collisions, 36 injured pedestrians, bicyclists and motorists, and over 30 instances of property damage in the past 10 years. The BGC drastically improves these flawed designs and will create a much safer transportation network and user experience.
Per NCHRP Guidelines, the above analysis attributes $.05 per mile in cost savings to reduced emissions. A separate analysis demonstrates that the BGC results in reductions of approximately 52 million pounds of carbon dioxide, 1.8 million pounds of carbon monoxide, 135,500 pounds of nitrous oxides, and 193,000 pounds of hydrocarbons. However, to avoid double-counting benefits, additional reductions in greenhouse gases and other emissions have not been monetized.
The BGC enhances the safety and usability of ADA users by creating or improving ADA accessibility at 10 locations along the trail. Since the magnitude of the improvements varies by location, this benefit has not been monetized. However these improvements are critical to maintain compliance with ADA standards and ensure access to the University of Washington for all users.