County to add stoplight to Birch Bay intersection

Published on Wed, Feb 23, 2011 by By Jeremy Schwartz

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The intersection of Birch Bay-Lynden Road and Portal Way could see a new stoplight within two years thanks to $1.3 million in state transportation funding the county recently received.

Another $1.3 million in federal road funds could go to improve a number of rural roads throughout the county, including the stretch of Birch Bay-Lynden Road from Harborview to Lynden city limits.

These projects are just two of many changes Whatcom County public works wants to make to the county’s 2011 construction program due to a recent influx of state and federal grants.

On Tuesday, county council unanimously introduced the item for a public hearing and consideration at a later regular council meeting.

The stoplight at the Portal Way/Birch Bay-Lynden Road intersection will replace the existing four-way stop.

Storm-water-handling improvements, left-turn lanes and crosswalks will also be added to the intersection, county engineer Joe Rutan said.

The project is estimated to cost about $2 million, with most of that money coming from the recently received state grant.

With design work currently at 70 percent completion, construction on the project is set to start in the summer of 2012 and last until the end of the season, Rutan explained.

Public works is also proposing the addition of shoulder and centerline rumble strips to the stretch of Birch Bay-Lynden Road from Birch Bay to Lynden.

The rural road program will attempt to reduce the number of accidents in which drivers run off the road, Rutan explained. The shoulder rumble strips will also make biking Birch Bay-Lynden Road safer by providing an audible warning of cars leaving the road to bicyclists, he said.

The estimated $73,000 project will improve driver safety on a stretch of road that saw 49 accidents in 2009, according to public works. Design work is set to being this year with construction planned for 2012.

In other Birch Bay road improvement news, county public works has announced land acquisition for the $3.9 million Lincoln Road improvement project is complete.

The project will go out for bid in March. Construction is set to begin in May and last to October.

Lincoln Road between Shintaffer and Harborview will be widened to two 12-foot wide driving lanes with eight-foot wide shoulders. Dedicated left-turn lanes, drainage improvements and wetland mitigation are also included in the project.

Though Lincoln Road will remain open throughout construction, drivers should expect one-lane flagged traffic and delays throughout the course of the project.

The improvements topped the county’s 2011 construction program list.