County to hold open house for berm project

On Saturday, November 8, Whatcom County Public Works will host a public open house to discuss the new Birch Bay Drive and Pedestrian Facility project, informally known as the “Birch Bay berm project.”

The project will improve the beach along Birch Bay Drive by creating a soft-shore protection berm and would also increase safety along the road. The project has been in the works for several years, but planning is finally underway, with construction expected to begin in 2016. The open house will provide local citizens the opportunity to ask questions and provide input for the project.

The idea for a shoreline reconstruction project began in 1975, when Wolf Bauer, a renowned coastal hydrogeologic engineer, provided the initial analysis. Whatcom County was able to build part of the project in 1986, but it stagnated after that. In 2004, a formal request for the completion of the project was incorporated into the county’s comprehensive plan,

In addition to the berm, the project will improve water quality by extending the existing stormwater drainage outlets farther out in the bay. An off-road path will improve pedestrian and cyclist safety along Birch Bay Drive. Project managers Roland Middleton and Kevin Thompson are working with the Washington State Department of Fish and Wildlife to provide a large culvert for a designated fish-bearing stream, improving the standards for fish passage through the bay’s waterways.

The berm will run from just north of Lora Lane to the Terrell Creek outfall on Cedar Avenue, approximately 1.5 miles along the bay.

Officials from Whatcom County will make presentations at Saturday’s open house, taking into account the economic, environmental, cultural and historic impact of the berm on the community, while also seeking input from community members to improve and expand on the project.

The open house will take place at the Birch Bay Bible Community Church, 4460 Bay Road, from 9 a.m. to 11 a.m. on Saturday, November 8.

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