Harborroad facing indefinite fix delay

Published on Thu, Mar 10, 2005 by ack Kintner

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Harbor road facing indefinite fix delay

By Jack Kintner

The closure of Drayton Harbor Road to through traffic may last a lot longer than anyone at first anticipated, according to Whatcom County engineer Joe Rutan. Aside from the severity of the problem, he began by saying even “if we had all the money to repair it and the permits in hand,” it would still take six months or more to design it, bid it and schedule the work.

But when recent rains caused more slope failure Rutan sent technical consultants out to do some probing and coring, and found that it’s a much more serious erosion problem than it at first appeared to be. Rutan said that the consultants found “voids as big as 10 feet for a half mile of that road where the tide has worked its way in under the pavement, so the road is closed – meaning no thru traffic – as a matter of public safety.”

Rutan cited several factors that will mean further delay in repairing the road. “The work is down on the beach, so that will involve getting permits from two state agencies, fish and wildlife and ecology, plus National Marine Fisheries. And while we must get people to their homes, we do not have to keep the road open if repairing it would involve inordinate expense. And given the erosion, it won’t be cheap.”

Rutan said that the process is now in the evaluation stage “where we’ll look at possible remediation and associated costs. Typically if it falls within a certain range the county can just go ahead and do it, but if it’s above that then we’d bring it to the decision makers, ultimately the county council.”

Rutan said they could decide to close it, keep it open for local traffic only, open it as a one-way road or repair it completely. “The question is,” he said, “does the council want to spend this much money on this stretch of road?”