BlaineRoad to open within 2 weeks

Published on Thu, Aug 30, 2007 by ara Nelson

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Blaine Road to open within 2 weeks

By Tara Nelson

Drivers can expect a portion of Blaine road between Grandview and Bay roads currently closed for construction to reopen as early as September 7 – more than two weeks ahead of schedule, Washington State Department of Transportation officials announced last week.

DOT spokesperson Katie Skipper said crews had originally planned to temporarily open the road in August to allow vehicles to compact the dirt before closing it again for paving in September. Monitors in the soil, however, indicate the soil is stable enough for paving without additional compaction.

“Our earlier estimate was to finish the entire project by the end of September, but now it looks like we may open the road as early as September 7, and it’s not looking like we will need to close the road for 30 days,” she said. “So it will just be finished when it’s finished.”
The project replaced a rusting stream culvert that hung almost one foot above the surface of Terrell Creek, creating a difficult jump for fish. Skipper said the new culvert is aligned to the same level as the creek bed and crews will lay gravel and stream bed material to imitate a natural stream.

“So the fish will now basically have an uninterrupted path, which is a pretty nice change from the last culvert,” she said.

“Another benefit, was that we were also able to get rid of a significant dip in the highway where there was a significant loss in sight distance. So it’s an added benefit that we were able to improve the safety right along that stretch.”

The completed project should also protect the highway from erosion caused by water flowing out of holes in the culvert and pooling around it. Damaged culverts can create sinkholes and cause roads to crumble, she said.

Nooksack Salmon Enhancement Association (NSEA), a Whatcom County-based environmental group, alerted WSDOT several years ago that the culvert was failing and created a barrier to Puget Sound steelhead, recently listed as threatened under the federal Endangered Species Act. The fish depend on Terrell Creek for their habitat and during high water, sections of broken pipe would flip up at the downstream end and close off the pipe completely.

As part of the construction contract, NSEA will plant native plants on one-half acre along the creek and in a nearby conservation area, to offset the effects of construction.

Ferndale-based Callen Construction won the contract with a bid that was $145,910 less than WSDOT’s engineering estimate.