James Street Road in Bellingham won’t reopen until January

November alternated between freezing cold and heavy rain — poor conditions for working with concrete.

The weather prevented crews from pouring the deck of a new 85-foot bridge on James Street Road, north of Sunset Pond Park. The project is delayed about two weeks, and the road won’t open until January, city project manager Craig Mueller said.

City officials had said they expected to reopen the road this month. James Street Road was closed from the park to Orchard Drive on July 8 so crews could replace two small, unsafe bridges with a single larger span.

The two wooden bridges that crossed two tributaries of Squalicum Creek, on either side of an old railroad grade, were wearing out and were posted with weight limits.

Closure of the commuter route has forced 11,400 trips per day, on average, to take detours.

The bridge deck had been scheduled to be poured on Nov. 18, according to the project Web page, but it hadn’t happened as of Monday.

“It’s very weather dependent,” Mueller said of the concrete work. “It was pushed back due to excess cold and a lot of rains.”

After the bridge deck is completed, crews will build sidewalks, curbs and gutters, and pave the road. It was unclear how long into January all of this would take.

“We’ll have a better idea within the next month,” Mueller said.

The $2.5 million project also includes widening James Street Road and adding bicycle lanes.

The work must be scheduled around poor weather in November and December because the so-called “fish window” for construction work in salmon streams didn’t open until July 15, Mueller said. Bridge construction couldn’t begin in earnest until that date.

Sometime after the bridge is finished, the city plans to divert Squalicum Creek away from Sunset Pond to flow under the new bridge. The reconfigured channel will improve salmon habitat and reduce flood risk.

For more information, go to cob.org and enter “James Street bridge” in the search box.