The Blaine public works department is gearing up to complete the last stage of the Marine Drive makeover this spring. The project will widen Marine Drive to 28 feet and add 6-foot sidewalks on both sides of the road from the Peace Portal Drive roundabout to just west of the railroad tracks.
Public works staff, along with Port of Bellingham officials, will hold an open house on Thursday, March 22, at the Blaine Boating Center conference room at 235 Marine Drive to explain the improvements. The meeting will start at noon and is expected to run no longer than one hour.
Later that evening, the Blaine planning commission will hold a public hearing on the improvements; a vote to approve the project is expected to follow the hearing. The commission will meet at 7 p.m. in Blaine council chambers.
Originally, the improvements were going to be part of the roundabout installation, but the Washington State Department of Transportation dropped that portion of the project after two Blaine business owners filed for a court injunction to stop construction. The filing was unsuccessful and the roundabout was completed in May 2010.
DOT officials warned at the time that any improvements needed to be part of the project and that they would not pay for the work after the roundabout was completed. While the city has received a state transportation grant for $468,000 of the estimated $520,000 total project cost, the lawsuit has effectively cost city taxpayers the remaining $52,000 that will be needed to make up the shortfall.
Construction is expected to start in mid-May and wrap up before July 4. During construction one lane will be closed with flaggers on site to direct traffic.