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Erosion closes one lane of Mount Baker Highway near Maple Falls

Washington Department of Transportation crews reduced Mount Baker Highway to one lane at Glacier Springs Sunday, Feb. 8, 2015, due to erosion by the Nooksack River. WSDOT will begin work later this month on a $3 million emergency project to realign the roadway.
Washington Department of Transportation crews reduced Mount Baker Highway to one lane at Glacier Springs Sunday, Feb. 8, 2015, due to erosion by the Nooksack River. WSDOT will begin work later this month on a $3 million emergency project to realign the roadway. Courtesy to The Bellingham Herald

Mount Baker Highway has been reduced to one lane about four miles east of Maple Falls because the Nooksack River is eroding the eastbound lane of the highway.

Heavy rain and runoff over the last few days helped erode an already problematic area, so the Washington State Department of Transportation decided to close one lane Sunday morning, Feb. 8, out of caution.

Flaggers were alternating traffic through the area Sunday. WSDOT expects to put signals in place to control traffic through the one lane approaching Glacier Springs. Drivers should expect delays.

It’s unclear how long that highway section will be down to one lane, but WSDOT is calling it a long-term emergency closure.

WSDOT has been planning a $3 million project to realign that stretch of the highway. That emergency project will begin later this month.

During a previous period of heavy rain, between Nov. 21 and Dec. 5, 2014, runoff washed away about 5 feet of embankment near the shoulder of the eastbound lane, according to WSDOT. That led to an emergency proclamation from Gov. Jay Inslee on the danger of the highway's condition and cleared the way to seek federal funding of the project.

The plan is to shift the highway to the north, farther from the river.

For more on the emergency project, go to wsdot.wa.gov/Projects/SR542/GlacierSpringsRealignment/.

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