Dakota Creek bridge to close for six months


The Dakota Creek Bridge on Portal Way will be closed for the next six months so the county can update the structure.

Construction on the bridge began on May 12 and is expected to finish by December. The bridge will be closed during construction. Truck traffic will be rerouted onto I-5 and local traffic will be detoured onto Blaine Road and Loomis Trail Road.

On April 14, Whatcom County Council approved staff’s recommendations to raise the budget for the project to $4,048,604, an increase of more than $400,000 since the issue was last amended in November.

The bridge will receive a seismic retrofit, which will protect the bridge in the event of an earthquake or other seismic anomaly. The need for the retrofit was first recognized in a 2010 structural assessment, but the project did not make it before council for funding until February 2014.

The bridge was built in 1928, designed as a timesaving detour for travelers on the Pacific Highway. The retrofit will preserve the original 1928 design, making the bridge safer without significantly affecting its historical significance.

The project was first proposed with a budget of $3 million. That amount increased in November to $3,598,604 to account for environmental and archeological issues that arose during the planning phase.

The federal Bridge Replacement Advisory Committee (BRAC) will provide $3 million, which is the maximum amount BRAC is allowed to contribute. The remaining cost will be covered by the county’s road fund. Construction bidding for the project opened on March 10, 2014 with the lowest bid received being $413,000 more than the initial budget. Unforeseen costs included special-ordering steel column jacket retrofits for the bridge. The price of fabrication, availability of the steel and cost of installation could not be determined at the time the initial budget was drawn up, according to county bridge and hydraulics manager James Lee.

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