BELLINGHAM - A summer-long project to improve traffic flow and safety on Meridian Street begins Thursday night, May 16, between Bellis Fair Parkway and Bakerview Road.
Crews will close the northbound right lane of Meridian from 8 p.m. Thursday to 8 a.m. Friday to set up signs and fences before digging a trench along that side of the street.
Electricity, natural gas and other utilities will be moved into the trench before a new right lane is built on that part of Meridian. The added lane is intended to reduce backups at the Bakerview intersection.
Trench digging won't begin until Monday night, May 20, because Monday is Victoria Day, a Canadian holiday. On normal weeks, construction will take place from 8 p.m. to 8 a.m., Sunday through Thursday.
The work is being done at night to avoid conflict with daytime traffic. Business entrances will remain open.
The trench will take about two weeks to complete, said Department of Transportation spokesman Dave Chesson. Then, Puget Sound Energy, Comcast and other utilities will work in the construction zone to place their lines.
"We could be looking at a month and a half to get that part done," Chesson said.
While utilities do their work, the contractor, Colacurcio Brothers Construction Co., will move to the northbound off-ramp at Interstate 5 and Meridian to widen the right-turn lane on the ramp. The turn is too sharp for trucks, Chesson said.
In a later phase of the project, which extends 1.7 miles from the off-ramp to Horton Road, crews will limit turn options to make the most dangerous part of the project area safer.
After July 1, left turns on northbound Meridian at Telegraph Road will be eliminated, and a center-line curb will be installed north of Telegraph, Chesson said.
To see the Washington State Department of Transportation Web page on the Meridian Street project, go to wsdot.wa.gov/projects/sr539/i5tohorton/.
Reach RALPH SCHWARTZ at email@example.com or call 715-2298.