Lincoln Road extension bogs down Birch Bay planning

Published on Thu, Apr 18, 2002 by Jack Kintner

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Lincoln Road extension bogs down
Birch Bay planning

By Jack Kintner

“From a purely transportation standpoint, extending Lincoln Road makes perfect sense, but when you factor in the expense, and the damage it will cause to California Creek wildlife habitat, it makes no sense at all,” said Loomis Trail resident John Sand, leader of a petition drive aimed at reversing a part of the Birch Bay Planning Committee’s transportation plan called “Lincoln Road – Stage II.”

Though the transportation chapter was approved some weeks ago, the Loomis Trail neighborhood is not a part of the steering committee and had not been notified that their neighborhood had been targeted for this suggested project.

Other committee business, notably the discussion of governance alternatives, was pushed aside to hear the petitioners’ case. Following an extended discussion the committee voted narrowly to keep the extension in the plan as a way of relieving expected traffic congestion between Birch Point and I-5 as several planned neighborhoods develop.

Specifically, the committee’s plan is to extend Lincoln Street straight east across Blaine Road to Peace Portal Way via Loomis Trail Road, which involves crossing California Creek. The road would initially be two lanes wide with broad shoulders, much as it is now at its west end where it joins Semiahmoo Parkway. The California Creek Bridge would be built to accommodate four travel lanes for expected future growth.

“Of course we’re interested in preserving our homes,” said Sand, “but I’d oppose this plan even if I lived in downtown Blaine. It’s a very costly solution both in dollars and in habitat loss to a problem we don’t even know we have.”

Sand’s neighbor John Eley, director of the Lynden Department of Public Works, also criticized the plan’s expense and scope. “I’ve built a lot of bridges and the costs involved here just in planning this, let alone building it across a salmon stream, would far outweigh its benefit,” Eley said.

Consultant Mart Kask, along with representatives of the Cottonwood Reach neighborhood and Dave Determan of the Point Whitehorn neighborhood, stubbornly defended the plan. Kask pointed out how, without the extension, anticipated development over the next 20 years would lead to severe congestion on Birch Bay-Lynden Road and Birch Bay Drive, something the committee wants to prevent. “We have designed this plan, as you have requested from the beginning, to do all we can to reduce traffic along Birch Bay Drive,” said Kask.

Realtor Mike Kent of the Birch Bay Village Reach neighborhood countered with the suggestion that traffic could be accommodated by a widened Lincoln Road that ends at Blaine Road, where cars would then head south to Birch Bay-Lynden Road before proceeding east. “This would be a win-win,” said Kent, “because it would get the commuter traffic away from the beach but also run it past planned commercial development at the Birch Bay-Lynden Road intersection with Blaine Road.”

Committee chair Meg Grable allowed the discussion to last from just after convening at 7:15 p.m. to 8:30, when the committee voted 5-4 to retain the Lincoln Road Stage II in the transportation chapter. Afterward they adopted the economic chapter but tabled the governance discussion until they next meet on Wednesday, April 24 at 7 p.m. at Birch Bay Leisure Park.

Due to the close vote and large number of absent committee members, Determan has since circulated an alternative plan by e-mail that connects Lincoln Road to Blaine Road and then continues southeast directly to Birch Bay-Lynden Road, eliminating the California Creek bridge. “I’m a bike rider,” Determan said, “and some days it’s already too congested to ride safely out there. We do need to have some options in this plan, but this is more practical.”.

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