Good news for users of the Alabama Street corridor: safety improvements are slated to begin on May 26, 2015. The improvements will stretch from Cornwall Ave. to St. Clair Street.
Workers will begin the project by addressing one intersection at a time on either side of the highway, preventing a full road closure. Instead, single lane closures will happen between 9 a.m. and 4 p.m. while the improvements are made, which may delay traffic for 5 to 10 minutes. Commuters are encouraged to use alternate routes when possible, especially during commuting hours.
The project will include the following modifications:
- 4-to-3-lane “road diet” to add bike lanes between Iron Street and Dean Avenue on the west end on the Alabama Corridor
- Hybrid “road diet” by extending the existing lane configuration on Alabama Hill (2 lanes eastbound, 2-way center lane, 1 lane westbound) from St. Clair Street to Superior Street
- Four new pedestrian and bicycle activated High Intensity Activated Crosswalk (HAWK)s at Moore, St. Paul, Undine, and Michigan streets
- Left-turn restrictions between I-5 and Pacific Street as well as from Woburn Street to Superior Street
- A new flashing crosswalk at Ellis Street
- Street widening to add and extend a left turn lane from Undine Street to Woburn Street
- Reduced speed limit from 35 mph to 30 mph
- New pavement from Cornwall Avenue to St. Clair Street
The corridor sees more vehicle collisions than any other city-owned road in Bellingham, project engineer Freeman Anthony said. From 2006 to 2011, there were more than 262 vehicle collisions, 93 of which resulted in injury. In 2012 and 2013, there were another 52 total vehicle collisions while proposed safety measures were being analyzed, 18 of which involved injuries.
In April 2015, Bellingham City Council awarded the project to the lowest bidder, Award Construction Inc. of Ferndale.
The cost to the City will be $3,377,989.20, offset by a $1.4 million federal grant through the Highway Safety Improvement Program administered by the Washington State Department of Transportation.
The project advances citywide Pedestrian and Bicycle Master Plans, Bellingham neighborhood plans, Whatcom Transportation Authority service plans and City emergency response plans.