Public works to prevent Deer Trail erosion from worsening

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A roadway in Birch Bay is experiencing severe erosion that has forced Whatcom County Public Works to limit traffic to one lane at the spot of the landslide and look for ways to prevent more of the road from falling away.

Brian Walker, senior engineering technician for public works, said in an email the damage to Deer Trail was observed in early January when the roots of a maple tree separated from the hillside along the road, pulling the edge of the road with it. On January 5, a county maintenance and operations crew removed the maple tree that was in danger of falling over due to the roots being destabilized by erosion. Walker said the bulk of the landslide occurred shortly after the tree removal, and there has been some minor erosion since January 5.

The county has hired a consulting geotechnical engineer to analyze recommended temporary stabilization measures to take before the roadway can be permanently reconstructed. Walker said those measures are still being analyzed.

Near the intersection of Cherry Tree Lane, the spot of the landslide, Deer Trail has been reduced to one lane and stop signs have been placed on either end of the road to control traffic. However, it can be difficult for those entering the residential area to see oncoming traffic on the other side of the barriers that block the eroded roadway because of the gradient and bend in the road.

Walker said this section of the road will remain one lane until at least the short-term embankment stabilization measures can be implemented. He said it’s possible the road won’t return to two lanes until the roadway is
reconstructed.

In a January 15 newsletter, public works said a long-term fix would take a year or two due to staff resources, budget, permitting and other factors.

Deer Trail road serves as sole access to households on it, Cherry Tree Lane, Fawn Crescent, Pheasant Drive and Grouse Crescent Road, totaling about 80 to 90 residential households.

Walker said he has heard concerns from residents about maintaining access to the neighborhood and questions on when the roadway will be restored.

Walker suggested that residents who want to stay informed about the project visit the project website at bit.ly/3jWA3Ac.

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