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Construction on Mount Baker Highway starts Thursday

Traffic is down to one lane on Mount Baker Highway east of Maple Falls on Monday, Feb. 9, after the eastbound road shoulder was eroded by the Nooksack River. The Department of Transportation plans to start work later this month on moving that section of highway farther from the river.
Traffic is down to one lane on Mount Baker Highway east of Maple Falls on Monday, Feb. 9, after the eastbound road shoulder was eroded by the Nooksack River. The Department of Transportation plans to start work later this month on moving that section of highway farther from the river. The Bellingham Herald

Starting Thursday, Feb. 19, crews will work to reroute a stretch of Mount Baker Highway away from the Nooksack River to protect the highway from erosion.

Crews closed one lane along a 1,000-foot stretch of the highway after the Nooksack rose to near flood stage Feb. 6, further eroding a bank near the eastbound lane, which has been threatened by the river for years. Traffic signals are currently directing traffic flow, allowing one direction of traffic at a time to go through.

Under an emergency contract, the Washington State Department of Transportation has hired Bellingham company Ram Construction to move the stretch, which is just west of Glacier Springs.

Construction is scheduled to last through April.

Crews will move that stretch of highway about 100 feet northeast of where it currently sits, putting the road well away from the river, said Tom Pearce, DOT spokesman.

During construction the highway will remain at one lane through the stretch, with traffic alternating through the area.

The $3 million move had been planned for this summer, but bank erosion earlier this month and from Nov. 21 to Dec. 5, 2014, prompted DOT to start the project sooner. Federal emergency funding is covering the full cost of the project.

That stretch of Mount Baker Highway, also known as State Route 542, carries about 2,000 vehicles a day on weekdays, and 3,000 a day on weekends, during ski season.

Details and updates on the project are at wsdot.wa.gov/Projects/SR542/GlacierSpringsRealignment.

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