Some initial site work has begun on a project to rebuild scenic Birch Bay Drive, restore the beach and provide better drainage and flood protection.
Whatcom County engineers have staked the project’s location and the right-of-way around power poles so Puget Sound Energy crews can move them as necessary, according to Kathy Berg with Birch Bay Chamber of Commerce.
A main feature of the project is a raised berm between the road and the shoreline that would protect Birch Bay Drive from flooding and serve as a walkway, said Roland Middleton, a spokesman for the county Public Works Department. Properties along the road are vulnerable to storm surges, particular if they coincide with high tide.
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Environmental Science Associates is the lead engineer on the project, portions of which were first proposed in 1975. The firm was hired after negotiations broke down between the county and the previous design consultant, Everett-based Reid Middleton, in 2014.
Construction on the $11.5 million project is scheduled to begin in September and be completed in 2019, Middleton said, though much of the work is scheduled to avoid the busy summer tourist season. The first phase will include removing the rip rap, sea walls, and bulkheads along Birch Bay Drive and replacing them with a soft shore beach.