By Steve Guntli
Blaine mayor Harry Robinson and the city council are upset after learning the state senate removed a Blaine improvement project from the budget in favor of projects in Ferndale and Lynden.
On March 7, Robinson sent a letter to state senator Doug Ericksen (R-Ferndale), protesting the removal of Interstate 5 exit 274 interchange improvement funds from the state’s budget.
The city has been working for years to get funding for the project, which would improve exit 274 by adding a southbound off-ramp and a northbound on-ramp.
The project would have allowed southbound I-5 traffic to exit into Blaine near Blaine Road. Currently, the nearest off-ramp is exit 270, requiring any vehicles that need to make a U-turn to go nearly 8 miles south before they can turn back to Blaine.
“There are many reasons not to require cars and trucks to make an 8-mile U-turn,” Robinson wrote in his letter to Ericksen. “Extra miles means additional fuel, increased pollution and the expansion of the carbon footprint.”
Robinson said the limited off-ramps are also hurting growth, as new businesses would be reluctant to set up in south Blaine due to the limited access for
The city hoped the new construction project could also alleviate some of the congestion of trucks that clog northbound SR 543 by giving trucks an alternate route in times of high traffic.
In place of the Blaine improvements, the senate approved upgrades to SR 539 in Lynden and Thornton Road in Ferndale.
“Allowing the project to be removed from the budget creates a setback that could take many more years to complete,” Robinson wrote. “It is of critical importance to the economic viability of the city of Blaine to provide exits and on-ramps into our city. What other city in Whatcom County has I-5 running directly through its city center with only one north and southbound interchange?”
The letter concludes by asking for Ericksen’s support in amending the budget.