Visitors to Marine Drive will have a smoother railroad crossing and better pedestrian access next year following the approval of a joint project between the city of Blaine and the Port of Bellingham.
In their regular meeting Monday, April 25, Blaine City Council members approved a $45,450 contract with Reichhardt & Ebe Engineering for engineering and design services for improvements and reconstruction of a small section of Marine Drive.
Blaine public works director Steve Banham said the $572,000 project is funded primarily with a $520,000 Washington State Transportation Improvement Board grant, which is funded through state gas tax revenue. The remaining $52,000, or 10 percent, will be split between the city of Blaine and the Port of Bellingham, he said.
The project will widen and resurface a section of roadway between the new roundabouts at D Street and Peace Portal Drive and the railroad crossing on Marine Drive, as well as add sidewalks and bike lines on both sides of the railroad tracks.
“It’s a pretty good deal for the city of Blaine,” Banham said.
Blaine city manager Gary Tomsic said the project is part of an ongoing effort to beautify and develop facilities along Marine Drive and will fill “a missing link” – a 90-foot section of Marine Drive where Washington State Department of Transportation (DOT) crews left off last year.
The department had originally planned to make improvements there until Blaine business owner Tom Bridge filed a lawsuit claiming the project was 200 feet from Cain Creek, which constitutes a shoreline area and thus is subject to a State Environmental Policy Act (SEPA) review.
DOT officials argued Bridge’s claim was invalid based on the volume of the creek being less than 20 cubic feet per second, but decided to abandon that segment of the project rather than dispute it in court.
“The Marine Drive Gateway Project is a critical element in the vision shared by the Port of Bellingham and the city of Blaine,” Tomsic said. “When the project is completed, it will say to visitors and residents, ‘You are entering a special area.’”
Banham said engineering and design work will begin soon and construction work will begin in the spring of 2012.