D Street to remain open in June
By Jack Kintner
The D Street bridge over highway 543
will be finished and open for traffic in June according
to Patrick Fuller of the Washington State Department of
Transportation (WSDOT). Fuller is assistant project manager
of the extensive $30 million renovation and expansion of
the truck route that began last year.
“Right now the project has been completed on 543 between I-5 exit 275 and H Street,” said Fuller. Northbound traffic that has been crossing a trucks-only lane when turning right from the center lane on to H Street has been redirected to a regular right turn lane.
Signals at the intersection were taken off their permanent mounts and put up on wires so that they can be shifted as needed as northbound and southbound traffic is switched from lane to lane as the work proceeds, and the speed limit has been reduced to 35 mph.
The design provides three northbound lanes north of H Street, one of which will be a dedicated trucks-only lane.
The D Street overpass is actually two slab bridges that meet in the middle where the ramps from the truck route meet D Street between the north and southbound lanes. The ramps are roughly the same slope and height that SR 543 was before the work began. The retaining walls are constructed of 971 drilled shafts that go down as much as 80 feet. Each shaft slightly overlaps the next one providing the wall with integrity and strength.
Once the four bridge piers are completed then the slabs will be poured, D Street will re-open and work will continue below on 543 as the roadbed is excavated. When complete the road will be level from H Street to the border, Fuller said.
Though recent rains left a lot of water on the site, most of which is being trucked away to either a WSDOT site on H Street east of Blaine or to a wetlands mitigation site on Sweet Road, Fuller said that only one spring has been encountered. “It’s close to the end of 12th Street,” he said, “but once we drilled below it at about 30 feet then it wasn’t a problem. All the rest of the water is simply run-off.”
Officials wait for Drayton Harbor Road permits
Drayton Harbor Road’s $1 million repair will begin this summer, “hopefully in July if all the permitting is done.
“And we anticipate that being accomplished,” said Whatcom County public works director of engineering Joe Rutan.
Chris Brueske, the engineer in charge of the project, said it’s normal to have some uncertainty about permitting timelines. “It’s too early to say if we’re off the time line or not. There’s a lot of variability as to what agencies want,” Brueske said.
For this project they’re working on permits with the Whatcom County Shorelines and Critical areas staff, the Washington State Department of Fish and Wildlife, the Washington State Historical Preservation Office, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, the U.S. Department of Fish and Wildlife and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. In addition to all this they’re also coordinating with area tribes from a cultural standpoint.
Drayton Harbor was a cornucopia, according to Bellingham archaeologist Al Reid, and had a native population that often numbered in the thousands, especially during the fall salmon runs.