Tree removal is latest controversy in Burke Gilman missing link saga

VIDEO: Tree removal is latest controversy in Burke Gilman Missing Link saga

More controversy is brewing over the 1.4 mile missing link of the Burke Gilman Trail in Ballard.

The city will be cutting down more than a dozen trees in Ballard along Market Street to get ready for bike lanes that are going in.

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It's catching the neighborhood by surprise - and people say getting rid of the trees – some decades old - will be a big loss.

We counted 16 trees along Ballard's NW Market Street wrapped in duct tape, each plastered with a bright yellow sign informing passersby that these trees are coming down - starting April 15. The signs were posted April 2.

“They look like they've been here 20-30 years,” said Anthony Collins, a longtime Ballard resident. “Anytime something established gets destroyed, it's a pity,” he said.

“When signs just come up and trees go away, it’s not like it’s being managed and more like it’s being dictated to us and the community doesn’t have a say,” Collins said.

SDOT says the tree removal, is part of the Ballard Multimodal Corridor Project - its rebranded name for plans to complete the missing link.

The plans also include other work, like roadway paving, signal improvements, new transit poles, new sidewalks, and storm drainage.

SDOT says on its website that chopping down the trees "enables crews to demolish existing street and roadway concrete" and do drainage work.

“It's very sad and disappointing,” said Debi Boyette, who owns the vintage clothing shop, Le Merde.

The signs say two trees will be planted for every tree removed.

“It’s not the same, it's really not. Look at these beautiful grown trees. Taking them down is just not a very good idea,” Boyette said.

The city is starting preliminary construction work but it's still waiting on a full go ahead from King County Superior Court.

A judge ruled in December the city needed to do further study  on economic impacts of the new bike trail to the businesses along Shilshole Avenue.

Part of the bike lane will be on NW Market Street too.

Le Merde said the prep work is already hurting her business.

“It’s been crazy, there's been a lot of traffic this week, nowhere for anyone to park, and we've been pretty dead,” Boyette said.

“And anticipating it'll further impact business?” KIRO7’s Deedee Sun asked.

“Oh absolutely, unfortunately,” Boyette said.

But those who bike, are rejoicing for the day when the missing link - is missing no longer.

“When you have to get off the trail it gets kind of scary,” said Mariah Dorsey . “Taking trees down is always sad, but they’re going to plant two more and in 10 years it’s not going to matter,” she said.

“If a bike lane is going in, that's just going to be safer,” said Eduardo Gallegos. “With a growing city, you need to have ways for people to get around,” he said.

The new economic impact study should be done sometime this spring.

The project costs about $26.4 million and construction is expected to be done by the end of 2020.