From the first flush in the morning past lights out at night, City of Bellingham Public Works is on the job around the clock to meet daily needs. On Thursday, May 19, as part of National Public Works Week (May 15-21) the community is invited to learn more about the City's services at a fair 2-6 p.m. at the Depot Market Square, 1100 Railroad Ave.
Children, their families, downtown businesses and their customers can see street sweepers and giant vacuum trucks, watch a robotic camera that can drive through underground pipes, try catching fake fish in a trap, become an inspector that tries to find tiny shells on a boat, toss fake dog poop into a garbage target, and many more fun activities with prizes. In addition, the first 100 people will get a free root beer float.
Staff from every division of Public Works will be on-site to answer questions on topics ranging from how the City's drinking water is cleaned and why Aquatic Invasive Species are so bad for Lake Whatcom to how bike lanes are planned – among all the things Public Works does to keep the community healthy, safe and moving.
American Public Works Association (APWA) sponsors National Public Works Week to shine a light on those who deliver and maintain City water, sewer, lights, natural habitat and roads. In Bellingham, Public Works responsibilities are varied and include:
- Working with home owners and businesses to reduce pollution;
- Projects to enhance creeks, streams and the Bay-to-Baker trail;
- Transportation planning for traffic safety, bike routes and facilities, and pedestrian needs;
- Building and maintaining roads and bridges;
- Protecting Lake Whatcom from invasive species and pollution;
- Street signs, street lights and maintenance (from sweeping up broken glass and plowing snow to filling potholes);
- Treating water from Lake Whatcom to provide safe, clean drinking water; maintaining 400 miles of water, sewer and stormwater pipes, and treating waste water.
Bellingham's Public Works department has a list of awards for some services – including its water and wastewater treatment – and just won the top national award for its Squalicum Creek Reroute project.
According to Bellingham Public Works Director Ted Carlson, services provided by the City's largest department are available as needed, 24/7 in emergencies, from a special staff.
“We are fortunate in Bellingham to have such skilled and professional Public Works employees,” said Carlson. “They really care about their work and those they serve – and it shows in the quality of service.”