Blaine is a drive-to, not drive-through city

Published on Thu, Oct 21, 2010 by By Bob Hendricks

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I have two favorite pastimes. One is sitting at the sidewalk tables, enjoying my multigrain toast, jam and English breakfast tea at Silva Gore’s Seaside Bakery cafe.

My spot along Peace Portal Drive affords most of what’s going on in Blaine by watching what goes by my table, by foot, auto and truck. Half of the license plates are blue and white, with a smattering of this and that from out and around; the balance is Washington’s blue, white and red.

For the blue and white ones, breaking for the west traffic circle having gassed up at Hill’s, brakes squeal and tires too, it’s “let me out of this place” as people head south up the I-5 ramp.

From the west traffic circle, one of four drivers miss the I-5 southbound turn out by getting off and onto Peace Portal Drive, quickly making a u-turn in the parking lot next to the old pizza/truffles building before gunning it up the ramp onto I-5. Much can be learned by watching others.

My other tea spot is when volunteering at the VIC in the mornings. The plastic bench: a place to watch Blaine’s finest chase down drivers who’ve blown through the stop sign at H Street. Once again, about half of the plates are blue and white, on up-scale European and Japanese makes from over the harbor headed back to B.C. with annoyed looks from drivers at the H Street stop.

About half turn right to either Security Mail Services, a bank, Lawrenson’s spirits shop, or checking out Aaron Tuski’s Blackberry House while waiting for 10 a.m. openings.

All are in Blaine for something other than Blaine. Blaine’s an extension of 17th Street shopping center, as it’s only an occasional tourist, who wanders our streets, admiring the Vigil, comes into the VIC for “what to do!” What is there to do? At the VIC we’re open to learn of any and all meaningful activities.

Blaine’s become a drive-through city, in between where people have been and where they’re going, with an errand or two carried on here.

I’ll suggest this reality is based on our street and roadway grid. Getting through Blaine requires driving Peace Portal Drive; that’s all there is to it.

The truck crossing eliminates downtown. Every north/south street runs into Peace Portal Drive or dead at I-5 roadway as do the east/ west streets. I-5 and Peace Portal Drive are the only direct north/south venues between the border and the Nooksack River. It’s our geography, friends, and nothing’s to be done except understand, accept and support each other in our “drive through city” dilemma.

We’re an absence of people here to be in Blaine, to visit our parks, harbor’s natural settings, taking advantage of our services, commerce and industry while strolling our streets. Our locals don’t do much of that either, BTW.

Rerouting our city’s main thoroughfares is in order. In my understanding we could have a pedestrian mall to accommodate people getting out of their cars to stay a while without dodging trailered boats, double bottom semi’s and late for B.C. or Seattle drivers!

There are experts with credentials, experience and examples, which we need only access for Blaine becoming a drive to city.

Bob Hendricks is retired and enjoys dahlia gardening, volunteering at the VIC, with the parks and cemetery board, and for the city’s yard of the week program. He is currently taking a creative writing class at the Blaine senior center.