After roundabout, Kendall seeks trail to connect community

This year is about better ways to get from one place to another in this northeast Whatcom County community.

A roundabout will be built this summer at the Mount Baker Highway-Kendall Road intersection, to replace the triangular intersection that has proven to be crash prone. The intersection had 23 reported collisions from 2003 to 2012, including 13 with injuries, according to state data.

Less certain but still a high priority among Kendall leaders is a new trail that would connect residents of Kendall, Peaceful Valley and Paradise to a resource center, Kendall Elementary School, the North Fork Community Library, stores and bus stops.

Work on the $2.8 million roundabout should begin in early July. Any work that affects traffic should be completed before Labor Day, about the time public schools return to session, state Department of Transportation spokesman Tom Pearce said.

The intersection will remain open during construction, Pearce said, although delays can be expected at times.

Most of the funding for the roundabout comes from a federal grant.

Vern Yadon, pastor of Kendall Church, successfully negotiated with DOT to keep his church intact after some of the state’s early roundabout designs required demolition of the church. Now, Yadon and other community leaders are turning their attention to a three-mile trail that would follow Kendall Road from the roundabout north to South Pass Road, adding a segment to the budding Bay to Baker Trail.

Those involved in the plan recognize that a difficult part of siting a trail is finding property owners who are willing to have it cross their land.

“At this point we’re being very vague. We’re not saying it’s going to be on either side of the road,” Yadon said. “When people try to get a definite answer from us, we have to be vague because we don’t know. We have to go on the path of least resistance.”

One element of the plan is a 300-foot sidewalk to connect Kendall Elementary School to the roundabout, along with a crosswalk to get from the school to the library.

“There are no safe routes to that school for pedestrians or bikers at this point,” said Charles Burleigh, Mount Baker School District superintendent. “The project that Vern is talking about is a very important project because it would change that.”

Yadon said the community group is working with DOT to find funding for the sidewalk. Roundabout construction this summer does not include a sidewalk, Pearce said, and he was not aware of DOT’s involvement in planning for the sidewalk.