By Bellingham Mayor Kelli Linville
It is officially summer, and our busiest time of the year for building, maintaining and repairing City streets, parks and other properties. You’ll see evidence of our hard work all over the City -- traffic flaggers and orange cones, fenced off parks and trails, street detours and closures -- as we make progress on new trails, safer intersections, sandy beaches and much more.
Here are some of the projects you’ll see progress on this summer:
I-5/Bakerview Road interchange improvements: Investments are needed around the I-5/Bakerview Road interchange to improve public safety and support economic development in this fast-growing area. This year, we are taking initial steps to increase safety and circulation, including installing new through lanes and turn lanes. This project represents an impressive partnership among state and local agencies that will result in cost effective, long-term mobility benefits and economic development opportunities for the region.
Wharf Street roundabout: A project to increase safety and traffic flow at the intersection of Boulevard, N. State Street, Forest Street and Wharf Street includes installing a roundabout and making other improvements. In addition to enhanced safety for pedestrian, bicycle and vehicle users, this intersection is designed to serve as a gateway to downtown, the Waterfront District, Fairhaven and Western Washington University.
Padden Creek daylighting: Padden Creek runs through a 120-year-old brick tunnel, a portion of it beneath Old Fairhaven Parkway. This summer the state Department of Transportation is building a new bridge there so that in 2015 the City can replace the tunnel to open about 2,200 feet of the creek to the daylight. We're pleased to work cooperatively with the state on this project to re-create a natural stream bed, which will allow fish passage, improve habitat and reduce flooding.
Pedestrian and bicycle safety projects: Several projects identified as priorities in the Pedestrian Master Plan and funded by Transportation Benefit District #1 are planned for construction this summer, including a sidewalk along Bill McDonald Parkway connecting WWU to the Samish Urban Village. Enhanced pedestrian crossings also will be added at the key intersections of State and Maple streets, James and W. Illinois streets, and Cornwall Avenue and Maple Street.
Street improvement projects: Our regular roadway maintenance program protects our sizable investment in streets and ensures quality surfaces for mobility and public safety. This summer we will be completing repairs, resurfacing and drainage improvements all over the City, including portions of Highland Drive, Woburn Street, West College Way and Hannegan Road.
Boulevard Park improvements: Major improvements underway now at Boulevard Park will result in wonderful, updated amenities to this popular waterside park. A new sand and gravel beach will replace some of the rubble on the shoreline, to reduce erosion, improve habitat and provide a soft, sandy shoreline for people to use. The park’s sewer line also is being replaced, and a fun new playground was completed in May. The majority of the work should be complete in the fall, with some tasks extending into next year.
New waterfront trail: Providing public access to the waterfront is one of the most important goals of our Waterfront District redevelopment project with the Port of Bellingham, and improvements now underway will create a new waterfront trail for people to enjoy. This summer the City is making trail and parking improvements to allow the public to use the trail atop the breakwater surrounding the former Georgia Pacific treatment lagoon. This trail is approximately a mile long and offers a spectacular waterfront experience with unique views of the city and the bay. We are moving quickly on this project and hope to have it open to the public by mid-August.
Civic field turf replacement: The artificial turf at Civic Stadium, installed in 2000, has exceeded its lifespan and will be replaced by the beginning of September. The stadium will be closed in mid-July while we remove the old synthetic turf and roll in new turf with permanent markings for football, soccer and lacrosse. The new synthetic turf products available today are higher quality than in year’s past, which will enhance the safety and usability of this popular sports facility.
Arne Hanna Aquatic Center pool resurfacing: The Arne Hanna Aquatic Center was constructed in 1994 and has since become one of the most-visited recreation facilities in the City. The instructional and lap pools were last resurfaced in 2004 and are deteriorating. The pools will be repaired and resurfaced during the annual maintenance shut-down period in August. This work is typical for regular maintenance and upkeep of indoor public pools and is necessary for continued public use at this facility.
Post Point wastewater treatment plant upgrades: Construction of the Post Point Wastewater Treatment Plant improvements continues, with significant steps expected during this summer construction season including structure testing, pump installation and major plant pipe connections. This intense work phase will include full plant flow re-routes and occasional periods of 24-hour-per-day construction operations. This multi-year project – the largest capital project we’ve tackled in almost two decades – adds new facilities to increase the capacity of the secondary treatment process, which keeps the plant in compliance with permit requirements.
These are just a few of the biggest, most-visible construction projects we have underway this summer. Many other smaller projects are in progress, too, which also will be visible in neighborhoods throughout Bellingham.
Sometimes our construction work interrupts transportation or the use of parks and other facilities. We wish we didn’t have to cause disruptions during the summer, especially when busy streets and popular parks and other recreation facilities are affected. Many factors influence our decisions about the timing of our work, including permitting regulations, purchasing requirements, contractor availability, and the need to complete some kinds of projects during Washington’s short dry season. For projects that include improvements in and around the water, such as those underway at Boulevard Park, we also must work within certain timeframes to protect fish and wildlife habitat.
We thank you for your patience while we maintain valuable City properties and bring you upgraded parks and new trails, safe and convenient transportation routes, and other improvements to our City. More information about these projects can be found on the City website, and please contact my office at 778-8100 or firstname.lastname@example.org if you have any questions.
Published: July 3, 2013