March 21, 2017
On Monday, March 20, 2017, the Seattle City Council received a visit from a coalition of labor, business, and community leaders, including Teamsters Local 174, to express our opposition to the City’s current plan on where to complete the “Missing Link” to the Burke-Gilman bicycle trail in Ballard. Seattle Mayor Ed Murray announced in a press conference on February 28 that all interested parties had agreed to build the trail on Shilshole Avenue South, a thriving industrial corridor that is home to many family and union wage employers, including several Teamsters Local 174 signatory employers.
However, the Mayor seems to have been misinformed. While certain opponents of the Shilshole Avenue plan have been persuaded to change their position, our coalition still strongly opposes this plan and believes that the trail would make much more sense if it were built on Leary Ave and Market Street. Building the trail there instead of on Shilshole would also save tens of millions of dollars, as the cost would likely be closer to $2 million rather than the $31 million budgeted for the Shilshole Avenue South route. Our coalition put out a press release on March 9, 2017 describing our position and the reasoning for it. The press release includes a quote from Teamsters Local 174 Secretary-Treasurer Rick Hicks. It can be viewed here, and you can learn more about the background of the situation here.
A group from Teamsters Local 174 attended the Seattle City Council meeting yesterday wearing Teamsters 174 jackets and carrying signs. Business Agent Michael Walker, who represents our Teamster members at Salmon Bay Sand and Gravel and has been a concrete mixer truck driver for decades, gave interviews to several news outlets. View these news segments here and here.
Walker then gave testimony in front of the City Council in which he reminded the Council members that we have already made the mistake of putting bicyclists and concrete trucks into the same space: a man on a bicycle was hit by a concrete truck in 2015 while riding the Burke-Gilman Trail in Kenmore, a tragedy affecting not only the bicyclist and his family, but the truck driver who will have to live with that memory every day for the rest of his life.
After the meeting ended, a bicyclist who favors building the trail on Shilshole Avenue — despite the strong and reasonable objections of our coalition — engaged in an argument with Walker and others. He soon realized that he was out of his depth, as Walker and the Teamsters know more about driving trucks and about the inherent dangers of putting bicycles on Shilshole Avenue than anyone.
Now that our voices have been heard, we wait to see if the Seattle City Council does the right thing and reconsiders building this trail in such a dangerous location and at such an absurdly high cost.
To see the excellent media coverage of the event, click on the links below:
King 5 news coverage: http://www.king5.com/news/local/seattle/burke-gilman-trail-debate-heats-up/424108081
Seattle City Council March 20, 2017