City wins grant for Marine Drive reconstruction

Published on Thu, Nov 21, 2002 by Meg Olson

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City wins grant for Marine Drive reconstruction

By Meg Olson

At a ribbon-cutting celebrating the completion of Sixth Street improvements, state transportation improvement board (TIB) executive director Steve Gorcester said that Blaine was a rubber-stamp away from half a million dollars to rebuild Marine Drive.

Officially opening at the new street on November 15 ceremony, Gorcester congratulated the city on a successful rebuild of Sixth Street and presented mayor Dieter Schugt with a plaque for a job well done. That project was supported by a $342,000 TIB grant.

“We’re very pleased the city stepped to the plate in 1996 for the street levy and the community again spoke this year supporting the four-year maintenance levy to keep up our streets. Good streets are important to Blaine,” Schugt said. “Personally I’m pleased about Sixth Street because my great-grandson can now come to school safely on his skateboard.”
While a plaque is nice, the announcement of funding for Marine Drive was even more welcome. “It’s exciting because it means we can get started on Marine Drive which is one big project,“ Schugt said.

City manager Gary Tomsic said that, unlike Sixth Street, Marine Drive won’t be rebuilt the year after the grant announcement. “It’s not going to be immediate,” he said. “This is part of a much larger project.” The reconstruction of Marine Drive will be bundled with improvements to the city’s wastewater system, including a new lift station and an underground tank under Marine Drive for overflow wastewater storage. “The funding package we need to put together is much bigger than Marine Drive, up to $5 million,” Tomsic said.

Assistant public works director Steve Banham said the TIB funds would become available next summer and then be used to get started on a design for the new road.

“We’re looking for other funding partners to make the road even better,” he said, adding the city would approach the Port of Bellingham to share in the cost of the road rebuild. “They have an interest on the waterfront,” he said. “We can either do it really basic or, if they participate, make it nice.”

TIB representative Mike Polodna said Blaine got a piece of this year’s $82 million in funding the board will hand out. “In a small chit we look at three categories: safety, pavement condition and local support,” he said. “If you can walk out and see an accident waiting to happen the project will get points. We look at pavement condition and width, pedestrians and bikes, and how much truck traffic there is in the mix. Marine Drive scored high.”

Polodna said the grant award for Marine Drive would come before the TIB for final approval November 22..

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