Submitted by the City of Bellingham, written by Amy Cloud

A comprehensive street construction project will provide the first new crossing on Interstate Five in Bellingham since the highway was constructed in mid-1960’s.  The City of Bellingham will soon begin  work on a new arterial; the project will also include lighted sidewalks, bicycle lanes in each direction, a stoplight at the Orchard Street and James Street intersection, a new watermain and stormwater collection system, as well as a direct connection from the King Mountain neighborhood to the community’s only hospital.

Orchard Street connector. Photo courtesy City of Bellingham

Work is currently scheduled to begin on Monday, March 1 and is anticipated to take up to a year to complete.  There should be minimal impacts to traffic through this project and no detours are anticipated. A portion of the Squalicum Creek Trail where it passes under I-5 will be closed for the duration of the project and when completed, will be rerouted to a shared use concrete path on the south side of the new street through this closure zone.

The long-planned project is in the City’s Transportation Improvement Plan (TIP) with construction funded through a Connecting Washington grant from the state Department of Transportation.

The need for a new I-5 crossing has increased with Bellingham’s population, especially since the King Mountain neighborhood was annexed by the City in 2009.  The new arterial will improve vehicular safety, improve emergency access to  PeaceHealth St. Joseph Medical Center, and will help reduce exiting traffic congestion at the Sunset and Meridian crossings of I-5 by the construction of a multimodal arterial street between James Street at Orchard Drive, and the Squalicum Parkway and Birchwood Avenue intersection.

According to Craig Mueller, the project engineer,  there will likely be additional construction traffic on James Street and Squalicum Parkway entering and exiting, and occasionally flaggers will be present to ensure safety.  Towards the end of the project, there will be flaggers present when the Orchard Street and James Street intersection is converted to a stoplight-controlled intersection.  The Squalicum Parkway and Birchwood Avenue intersection will become a three-way stop sign intersection.

Property owners, businesses and neighborhoods directly affected by these two city construction projects have been notified.  Those with questions or seeking more information should contact the City’s Project Engineer, Craig Mueller, via (360) 778-7922 or camueller@cob.org. Visit the project webpage for project details and updates.

Print Friendly, PDF & Email