Residentscall for road improvements now

Published on Thu, Jun 9, 2005 by ack Kintner

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Residents call for road improvements now

By Jack Kintner

Blaine and Birch Bay residents who are trying to get Whatcom County to repair and upgrade area roads found out Tuesday at a county council committee on roads and traffic safety work session that relief will be at least a year away.

Not only that, but opinion seems sharply divided on re-opening Drayton Harbor Road, closed earlier this year due to several large washouts directly under the pavement just east of the Shintaffer Road intersection.

An open meeting is scheduled at the Semiahmoo firehall, June 9, at 7 p.m. to discuss road improvement issues with Whatcom County executive Pete Kremen.

County engineer Joe Rutan outlined a revised six-year construction plan for the council that included a million dollars dedicated toward re-opening Drayton Harbor Road in the summer of 2006. Extending Lincoln Road east to Blaine Road was set for 2008 in Rutan’s schedule. But several people from Birch Bay disagreed with spending time and money on Drayton Harbor Road when the Lincoln Road upgrade is needed now.

Council member and Birch Bay resident Sharon Roy responded to Rutan’s plan by saying that she was “just so frustrated. People who live [in Birch Bay] know what it means, punching Lincoln Road through [to Blaine Road] to get people out and on to the freeway. What I want to know is how Drayton Harbor Road got to be so high on the priorities? A million dollars for that little stretch?”

Rutan said that people who live there “have made it clear they want it open, and the county executive has directed that this be done. It’s also a connector to relieve traffic when Lincoln is being [rebuilt].”

He said that the city of Blaine has written letters about re-opening the road and that it’s also an issue of emergency access to houses on the other side of the closure west of the Shintaffer Road intersection.

“Then let Blaine pay for it,” said Claudia Hollod of the Birch Bay steering committee, “because it was their trucks hauling overflow from the water treatment plant that made it so much worse last winter.”

A group from Semiahmoo favored both projects, saying in written comments submitted to the council committee that both involve issues of safety and access. “These are improvements that must precede development and growth,” said John Bennitt, “since what’s being done so far is incremental. We need bulldozers, not just a band-aid.”