Councilconsiders road plans

Published on Thu, May 6, 2004 by rent Cole

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Council considers road plans

By Brent Cole

Members of the city council and city government looked into their crystal ball at the last work session, hoping to see what future projects lie ahead for Blaine’s public roads. The work session, which was held on May 3, was the first step in determining what transportation improvements are in the city’s future.

At the work session, Steve Banham, Blaine’s public works director, presented a list of projects being considered for inclusion in the proposed six-year (2005 – 2010) plan.

Among the road improvement projects being considered: A two phase Marine Drive project from Peace Portal Drive to the fishing pier, finishing the Semiahmoo Parkway overlay, two sections of H Street (from Ludwick Avenue to Vista Terrace Drive and Peace Portal Drive to Harrison Avenue), a pedestrian railroad overpass in the marina, harbor scenic loop, Cherry and Boblett streets from Peace Portal Drive to Mitchell Avenue, 10th Street (from H Street to E Street), G Street from 8th Street to 10th Street, E Street from 6th Street to 10th Street and a redesigning of I-5 exits 276 and 274.

Financing the projects will also be an issue with the 1996 city levy ending in 2006. Any work done from that will either require a new levy or another source of funding.

Marine Drive received much of the focus at the work session. The council discussed the necessity for road work on Marine Drive as a primary concern, which would cost approximately one million dollars to fix the road and another four to five million to lay pipes for the proposed waste treatment plant (improvement of the treatment plan is pending). Along with federal funds, the transportation improvement board will be giving Blaine $500,000; the city is also working out funding from the Port of Bellingham.

Banham hopes to start work on the project’s design next summer and start road paving in the summer of 2006.

Still, Banham was optimistic about the goals the department had set forth. “We’ll be doing good if we can get most of those done in the next six years,” Banham said of the road improvement possibilities.
Also discussed at the meeting were possible changes to the interchange at exit 274 where the city would like to have a full interchange at the south end of town. Several plans were presented to the council at the work session, but none of them were appealing to the group because they would probably cost too much money and are “not very elegant,” according to Banham. “We’re not happy with the solutions. I’m hoping as we go through the process, a better solution will emerge as we look at it more.” He continued, “My preference is still to wait till the real volumes are such that it becomes an issue and money is out there.”

“It’s gonna cost so much money to do that dang overpass, there ain’t no way it’ll happen,” said council member John Liebert.

“This is not cheap and the money isn’t there,” agreed Banham.
The council members also looked at the potential congestion problem on Adelia Street when the developments have been built. A couple of different options were put forth, including having parking on only one side of the street or spending up to $300,000 on extending Alder Street and acquiring additional right of way.

In the end, though, the council believed at this point it was not the best use of city resources, especially since the street isn’t at its full zoning capacity yet. The idea of eliminating parking on one side will be discussed at the upcoming city council meeting.

The city’s six-year transportation improvement program will be discussed at a public hearing on Monday, May 24 at 7 p.m. at Blaine city hall.