City street and construction projects for Jan. 31 – Feb. 4

New street under I-5, weather, construction projects may impact traffic

January 28, 2022 - by Amy Cloud, Communications and Outreach

February opens with a new connector street for pedestrians, drivers and cyclists to cross under I-5. The new street (named Birchwood) should mean less congestion on Sunset, Ellis and other north-end routes to the hospital. Meanwhile, the first month of the year will wrap up with continuing progress on a number of City street and construction projects. Related traffic impacts, as well as early dusk, will require drivers to be cautious, attentive and alert to weather conditions as well as pedestrians and cyclists. It is always important to travel with care.

City Operations Center – Pacific and Carolina streets

At the site of the City’s new administrative services center, crews will pour concrete in one more vertical section of the northern stairwell this week, then transition to erecting steel. The first four floors will be erected before concrete work resumes on the elevator shaft and stairwells. There may be occasional increases in truck traffic. To learn more, visit the project webpage or contact Chris Jacox, at or (360) 778-7700.

West Cemetery Creek water quality improvements  

The West Cemetery Creek Water Quality Improvement project includes work to install sediment control-and-capture structures along with stormwater outfall repairs within a portion of the Creek. These improvements will help reduce sediment in the creek and improve its stability. The project includes installation of large woody debris and repair of existing outfalls.  Work on this project has been suspended until this spring. Next summer, work areas will be along the westbound lanes of Lakeway and Old Lakeway drive. Trail closures are posted and marked, with alternate routes identified.  For more information visit the West Cemetery Creek Water Quality Improvements or West Cemetery project webpage or contact Freeman Anthony P.E. at or (360) 778-7924.

State and Ellis – bridge replacement  

A project to replace an 80-year-old wood-supported bridge on one of the major traffic routes through Bellingham continues. The project will result in a new single span concrete structure over Whatcom Creek. The wooden piles within Whatcom Creek will be removed and the in-stream habitat below the bridge restored. Businesses in the area remain open, with the road now closed to traffic. The detour reroutes traffic to Ohio Street, Cornwall Avenue, and York Street. (View detour map here.) Northbound Forest Street and Ellis Street will experience some single lane closures throughout the project’s duration. All pile-driving is now complete and the first portion of the bridge deck has been placed.  Crews will now focus on completing the bridge deck, barriers, sidewalk, bridge approach slab, overhanging slab and other to prepare the project for completion. Typical work hours are 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. Monday through Friday. There is a lot of concrete to place now through the bridge’s completion, which is weather-sensitive and may impact work hours. The contractor’s current schedule indicates completion of the bridge in mid- to late-March, weather permitting.  Updates for completion will be provided as the project progresses.  For more information, please contact Aric Smathers, P.E. project engineer, at (360) 778-7942 or or visit the State and Ellis bridge replacement project webpage.

Orchard Drive connector – I-5 underpass

The Orchard Drive extension project will create an arterial connection between James Street at Orchard Drive under I-5 and will connect to the Birchwood Avenue and Squalicum Parkway intersection.  Once the new street is in place, it will provide a direct connection from the King Mountain neighborhood to the hospital and alleviate congestion on Ellis Street as well as the Meridian and Sunset Drive I-5 crossings. The project will include bicycle lanes in both directions and lighted sidewalks on the north side of Orchard and will convert the James Street intersection to a stop light.  With final installation of the streetlights and James Street stop light, the street is open to traffic as of Jan. 28. Please note: the stop light on James Street is now active. For more information, visit the Orchard Drive Extension webpage or contact the project engineer, Craig Mueller, P.E., at or (360) 778-7922.

Stormwater facility rebuild – Park Place

The stormwater facility at 123 Park Place, east of Britton Road and North Shore Drive, is being rebuilt to remove phosphorus from stormwater heading into Lake Whatcom.  Stormwater will be treated with Phosphorus Optimized Stormwater Treatment system (POST) material, or media, which is a soil mixed with other components to facilitate the removal of the phosphorus from the stormwater before it is released into the lake.  The POST system is a new stormwater treatment system, and this will be the first full-size system installed with the POST media for stormwater treatment.  During the project, travelers can expect increased construction traffic during construction and intermittent lane closures on North Shore Drive and adjacent to the road.  Crews work 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. Monday through Thursday (and some Fridays), currently they are scheduled for installation of the POST media, starting Tuesday, Feb. 1.  Once this work is complete, the only remaining work will be paving the access road, electrical work, cleanup and landscaping. The seasonal exemption is complete and the only remaining work is not land-disturbing. For more information, please contact Aric Smathers, P.E. project engineer, at (360) 778-7942 or or visit the Park Place Water Quality Facility Reconstruction project webpage.

Sanitary sewer rehab – Whatcom Creek

Setup of the sewer bypass starting along the Whatcom Creek Trail east of I-5 continues westward. At  times over the next few weeks bypass work will require closure and detouring of a portion of the trail in that area and may include short-term impacts to traffic on James or Meador south of Whatcom Creek. A map of the closure is available on the project webpage. The project limits start near the auto dealership at the intersection of Nevada Street and Whatcom Creek, and continue west along Whatcom Creek trail, around another car dealership, through the Bellingham School District bus property, and should continue south on Humboldt Street, west on Fraser Street, through the Bellingham Housing Authority, south on Franklin Street, across Ellis Street and along York Street ending just west of State Street.  For more information and a site map visit the Whatcom Creek Trunk Main website or contact Larry Scholten, P.E., project engineer, at  or (360) 778-7923.

Washington State Department of Transportation (WSDOT)

Drivers can get real-time traffic information on their phone with the WSDOT traffic app or via the WSDOT north Twitter feed.

Whatcom County

For updates on County projects near Bellingham, visit the Whatcom County Public Works website. There is an option to subscribe for regular updates.

This report is provided as a public service based on currently available information. When traveling through a construction area – whether walking, cycling or driving – please be patient, travel with care and obey flaggers. When it’s dark, make sure you’re visible to others. Planned road closures and restrictions are necessary to allow for a variety of work including resurfacing, sidewalk construction, water and sewer main work, and utility cuts. Dates, times and work locations may vary, depending on weather or last-minute changes in work schedules. For more information, email

Media Contact

Paul Reed, Construction Manager
City of Bellingham – Public Works
(360) 778-7700

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