Burke-Gilman Trail

The Burke-Gilman Trail is the most congested bicycle and pedestrian transportation corridor in the state, and trail traffic will increase dramatically once work finishes on the SR 520 bridge replacement and HOV program (including a new multi-use path) and Sound Transit’s University Link and North Link light rail expansion projects.

The University of Washington is planning for the region’s active transportation future. In 2010, University of Washington Transportation Services began a major study of the section of the Burke-Gilman Trail that runs through campus. Through this study, our department confirmed that the existing trail fails to meet current demand and that trail conditions will deteriorate over time.

View a copy of our study conducted in conjunction with SVR Design Company and Fehr & Peers Transportation Consultants.

In 2012, Transportation Services began work with Place Studio and ALTA Planning and Design, which ultimately ended with a concept plan for the entire trail. The goals of the concept plan included:

  • • create a safe trail alignment that minimizes conflict between pedestrians, cyclists and vehicles
  • • clarify and organize trail connections
  • • develop a consistent trail rhythm and character
  • • create a front door / public face for the university
  • • reconcile regional use with campus landscape
  • • make the BGT a place, not just a conduit
  • • develop a comprehensive trail design which can be built out in phases

View a copy of our concept plan.

Phase one

Following on the work of the Burke-Gilman Trail concept plan, in winter 2012 our department applied for a grant from the Puget Sound Regional Council (PSRC) through the federal Congestion Mitigation and Air Quality (CMAQ) program. We won a grant for a first phase of construction — 15th Avenue Northeast up to the Montlake Triangle — and our department began work with Place and ALTA on more specific design and construction documents. Funding for this segment of the trail was obligated in September 2013 and the project is scheduled to go to bid in early summer 2014. Construction on this segment is estimated to begin in mid-summer 2014.

For more information about current detours on the trail, please visit our Burke-Gilman Trail detours page.

The PSRC CMAQ funds cover the section of the trail running from 15th Avenue Northeast up to the Montlake Triangle. Improvements include the following:

  • • A trail nearly double-in-size compared to its current width
  • • Separate trails for bicyclists and pedestrians, separated by a rolled curb
  • • No more bumps! We’ll fix current root upheavals and make sure new plantings won’t cause bumps on the trail in the future.
  • • More lights.
  • • More blue emergency phones.
  • • Better intersections where smaller paths meet the trail. Trail users will be able to better see folks crossing the trail, and vice-versa. (In our documents these intersections are called mixing zones.)
  • • Mixing zones with amenities such as benches, trash cans and bicycle parking.

Demonstration phase

In spring 2013, UW Transportation Services, in conjunction with UW Housing and Food Services, renovated a small portion of the Burke-Gilman Trail just north of the Mercer Court Apartments while those apartments were under construction. This small section serves as a demonstration of the treatments that will be applied to the rest of the UW-owned portion of the trail. It also serves as a test phase for how well (or not well) these treatments work and offers an opportunity for the community to provide feedback before the treatments are rolled out across campus.

The Mercer Court section has provided valuable feedback to our department, and in January 2014 we began another demonstration next to the Mercer Court Apartments testing constructability and different materials.

Make your voice heard: send us your feedback about the Burke-Gilman Trail

The future

Our department is keeping a keen eye on potential partnerships and grant competitions locally, regionally and nationwide, and is applying for 2014 USDOT TIGER discretionary grant funds, as well as PSRC’s regional CMAQ grant competition. Unless the BGMC is constructed and operating before the University of Washington Link light rail station opens in 2016, the severe congestion on this facility will have a negative impact on full realization of the potential use of the SR 520 multi-use path and Link light rail.