James Street Road in Bellingham might stay closed until March

James Street Road, closed since July, will not open until late February or March, according to the city official overseeing construction of a new bridge just north of Sunset Square.

Given the updated schedule, the road still will be closed when a new Safeway grocery store and fuel station open Feb. 6 at Sunset Square.

Poor weather in the fall and scheduling hitches over the holidays caused the delays. The road was originally expected to open in December, but project manager Craig Mueller said at the end of November that the project was two weeks behind because the weather hadn’t been suitable for concrete pouring.

Since then, Mueller said, he has gotten a better idea of the project’s timeline, and November’s weather may have delayed the project more than originally thought.

“The cold weather and periods of rain that we encountered severely delayed the pouring of the bridge,” Mueller said on Friday, Jan 16.

Also, scheduling around the holidays and lining up subcontractors over the past month was more difficult than anticipated, Mueller said.

James Street Road, used by 11,000 vehicles a day, will not be open for Safeway’s first customers. The 67,000-square-foot store in the former Cost Cutter space and the six-island fuel station both are scheduled to open on Feb. 6.

“We appreciate your patience,” Mueller said, directing his words to the driving public. “We’re trying to get the work done as quickly as we can while being sure the best product is constructed.”

Detours direct drivers coming from the north to take Bakerview Road east to Hannegan Road, then south to Sunset Drive. Alternately, drivers can take Telegraph Road west to Meridian Street, then south toward downtown. Those detours work in reverse coming from the south.

James Street Road is closed from Sunset Pond Park to Orchard Drive as crews finish up work on an 85-foot bridge that replaces two smaller spans that had become unsafe, according to city officials.

Workers are widening the road, and adding bicycle lanes and sidewalks. The $2.5 million project also included improvements to the Sunset Pond parking lot.

For project updates, go to cob.org and enter “James Street Bridge” in the search box.