By Steve Guntli
The Dakota Creek Bridge on Portal Way has been closed for the next six months to allow the county to update the structure.
Work on the bridge began May 12 and is expected to take until December to complete.
Truck traffic will be rerouted onto I-5 while local traffic will be detoured onto Blaine Road and Loomis Trail Road.
On April 14, Whatcom County Council approved staff’s recommendations to allot $4,048,604 for the project, an increase of more than $400,000 since the project was last budgeted in November.
The bridge will receive a seismic retrofit, which will protect the bridge in the event of an earthquake. 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.
Built in 1928, the retrofit will preserve the original design, making the bridge safer without significantly affecting its historical significance.
The project was first estimated to cost $3 million. That amount increased in November to $3,598,604 to account for environmental and archaeological 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 county’s road fund will cover the remaining cost.
Construction bidding for the project opened on March 10, 2014 with the lowest bid received coming in at $413,000 over 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.