Delayed traffic light project to commence this spring

Published on Wed, Feb 26, 2014 by Ian Ferguson

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A traffic signal project near Birch Bay that was planned for last fall has been rescheduled to begin this April, and the change means intermittent closures to Birch Bay-Lynden Road could extend into the summer.

The Birch Bay-Lynden Road/Portal Way signalization project was rescheduled due to an extremely wet fall. Part of the project includes the construction of a stormwater detention pond, but one of the wettest Septembers on record made the groundwater table too high to build the pond.

“We wanted to build the project all in one go, so we delayed the project until the drier season. We’re hoping the groundwater table will be low enough in the summer to allow us to build the stormwater detention pond,” said Whatcom County Public Works project engineer Kevin Thompson.

The project, scheduled to begin mid-April, will include the construction of a new traffic signal, upgrades to the railroad crossing, drainage upgrades, illumination and the rearrangement of lanes for better traffic flow.

In a statement explaining the details of the project, the public works department said construction will last approximately five months, but the portion of work that will close Birch Bay-Lynden Road will take a total of 5–10 days. That portion will take place early in the construction process to minimize disruption to Birch Bay residents and visitors during the busy summer season. The closures will occur in two segments for 2–5 days each time.

During the closures, a detour route will run south on Portal Way to Grandview Road, west to Blaine Road and north on Blaine Road until drivers are reconnected to Birch Bay-Lynden Road. Locals are encouraged to take back roads that make for a shorter detour. Traffic on Birch Bay-Lynden Road will be limited to one lane during some other portions of construction.

Project engineers said construction will not take place overnight because the addition of lights, safety measures and workers would substantially increase the cost of the project to the county and taxpayers.

The fund for the project was established in January 2013 with an initial budget of $3.6 million. Most of the funding for the project ($2.95 million) comes from two state funding programs: the Surface Transportation Program – Rural and the Rural Arterial Program.