From first flush in the morning to trips around town and teeth-brushing before bed, Bellingham residents utilize city services all day long. National Public Works Week, May 16-22, is an opportunity to learn more about vital city services that often go unnoticed.
In celebration of Public Works Week the City of Bellingham is hosting a series of activities May 16-22, including: a Public Works neighborhood scavenger hunt, self-guided Stormwater Discovery Tours, coloring worksheets, and a Public Works-themed Storytime led by the Bellingham Public Library.
The city has 275 highly trained public works employees who are skilled professional working on a wide breadth of services, programs, and projects that develop and maintain our critical infrastructure daily. Bellingham’s Public Works department, like many other cities, improves the quality of life for Bellingham residents by providing services and infrastructure essential for the welfare of the community.
Recent and ongoing significant Public Works projects, some utilizing grant funds and extending local dollars, include
- The city provides millions gallons of clean, safe water to Bellingham customers each day, as documented in the recent Water Quality report. The city’s water intake structure has been reconfigured in the Middle Fork of the Nooksack, which allowed for the diversion dam to be demolished and restore fish passage to 16 miles of salmon habitat;
- Voters approved the city’s Transportation Fund (formerly Transportation Benefit District), providing approximately $6-million per year for transportation projects through 2030 to provide residents and visitors with access to high quality transportation options, whether they are walking, biking, riding the bus or driving vehicles;
- To date the city has acquired over 2,000 acres of property in the Lake Whatcom watershed via the City’s Lake Whatcom Property Acquisition program to protect Lake Whatcom, the City’s drinking water source, consistent with Bellingham’s Climate Action Plan. In 2020, approximately 150 acres were added to the program.
- Modernizing aging infrastructure means less disruption to essential services. Bellingham received over $12-million in grant funding to replace the 80-year-old, timber-supported bridge at State and Ellis streets, one of the city’s major cross-town routes, as well as for bridges at Meador and James streets;
- As our city continues to grow, new multimodal transportation infrastructure is needed as well. The Orchard Drive Extension project, the first new I-5 crossing in Bellingham since the freeway was built, is under construction, utilizing $10-million in Connection WA funding. Also, the new section of Horton Road, connecting Meridian to Aldrich, creates a designated walking route as well as a key new east-west route to ease traffic congestion;
- We are a Gold-level Bicycle Friendly Community with the completion of the Samish-Maple-Ellis multimodal safety improvements project;
- The city completed Phases 3 and 4 of the Squalicum Creek Re-route project which restores Bug Lake to a forested wetland, reduces stream temperatures, and improves fish passage between I-5 and Cornwall Park and;
- The city is planning to install 45 electric vehicle chargers (90 plugs) at 25 sites across Bellingham to support the City’s climate change initiatives.
In addition to the projects above Public Works staff are responsible for the transportation network, providing safe drinking water and encouraging water use efficiency, climate change, fleet vehicles, communications equipment for emergency services, habitat restoration, review and permitting of private development, parking services, stewardship of Lake Whatcom, building maintenance and energy efficiency, stormwater treatment and management, wastewater treatment, and construction of sidewalks, buildings, roads, bridges and more. Each staff member strives to keep our community safe, healthy, and moving.
For more information, visit the PW Week information page.
Bellingham Mayor Seth Fleetwood honors Public Works video (May 2020)
National Public Works Week webpage