Street Maintenance

Overview Video

Bellingham’s population is growing. More people mean more cars, bikes and pedestrians trying to get places. How does the Public Works Street Crew maintain, repair, and prioritize new transportation projects? Learn how in this informational video. ​


Vegetation encroaching onto streets and sidewalks is a problem for Bellingham. City ordinances state that the abutting property owner is responsible for maintaining all vegetation up to the improved right-of-way, including street and sidewalk.  Some citizens do not maintain this​ vegetation until they receive abatement letters from the City. As the vegetation encroaches onto streets, sidewalks or traffic signing, citizens contact the City with complaints. A Customer Service Report is generated and the City’s Abatement Officer inspects the area of the complaint. This inspection usually generates an abatement letter to the adjacent property owner requesting that the offending vegetation be either removed or trimmed.

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The federal government mandates that bridges are inspected every two years. This is accomplished by contracting with private bridge inspection engineers. Repair lists are generated from that inspection report. Minor repairs are made by City crews and major repairs are contracted out to private enterprise.

The City contracts for one grader and operator to complete citywide grading in about six weeks each year. Typically three city crew members accompany the grader to facilitate work and inspect the final product. Two city dump trucks, operated by city crew, bring in new gravel and haul out spoils as needed. The third crew member operates a rented vibratory roller to compact the freshly graded alleys and streets.

Guardrail maintenance consists of cleaning vegetation from around guardrails so they are readily visible and repairing/replacing guardrails that have been damaged. City forces install short sections of guardrail while larger jobs are contracted out to private enterprise.

Shoulders are to provide a smooth transition from the paved roadway to surrounding native land. Periodically, a dirt berm builds up at the edge of the roadway which prevents water from getting into the ditches. This berm must be removed to ensure adequate drainage. The City also takes care of graveling and removing brush from the shoulders, where appropriate. Shoulders are maintained out to four feet from the edge of the street.

All work is done by private contractor except for the initial survey and final inspection. Sidewalks are rated every two to four, and repair priorities are based on those ratings.

Snow and ice control is accomplished by spreading a salt/sand mixture on the roadway or plowing when warranted. Priority streets are arterials and bus routes. Residential streets will be sanded as time and conditions permit. During snow events, crews operate the equipment 24 hours a day.

Street repairs fall into two classes, asphalt repairs and concrete repairs. For asphalt repairs, the pavement is removed and the subgrade is inspected. If the subgrade is deficient, it is removed and replaced with acceptable material. Our asphalt contractor then moves in and replaces the pavement.

Crack-sealing is accomplished solely with the use of contractors with city crews doing the final inspection. Filling potholes in streets and alleys is done with city personnel.​

For concrete repairs, all work is done by private contractor except the initial survey and the final inspection. A rating system is used for streets which directs where the repair money will be spent.

Street sweeping occurs year round throughout the city. Sweepers run night and day to ensure sweeping coverage for all neighborhoods. The city strives to provide a clean and safe traveling experience for vehicles and bicycles.