Local

Here’s why Mount Baker Highway could be a mess this year

How does asphalt paving work? This PBJ sandwich explains it

Why does asphalt paving work sometimes get postponed due to rain in the forecast? To help explain, WSDOT enlisted the help of a childhood favorite, the peanut butter and jelly sandwich.
Up Next
Why does asphalt paving work sometimes get postponed due to rain in the forecast? To help explain, WSDOT enlisted the help of a childhood favorite, the peanut butter and jelly sandwich.

Drivers on Sunset Drive and Mount Baker Highway face several months of delays as the state Department of Transportation starts a resurfacing project this spring.

Some of the work can be done at night, especially the stretch of state Highway 542 through the city of Bellingham, but most of the asphalt resurfacing requires warm, dry weather, said WSDOT spokeswoman Andrea Petrich.

State Highway 542 is called Sunset Drive within the Bellingham city limits and Mount Baker Highway through Whatcom County.

“It’s going to be rough,” Petrich said in a telephone interview with The Bellingham Herald Friday.

“Past Britton Road, it’s going to be daytime work,” Petrich said. “Most all of the project will require some lane closures.”

Petrich said dates for the work aren’t final, and that state officials plan a community outreach program with an open house to discuss how it will affect area residents and commuter traffic.

MBH construction.jpg
A map shows the approximate location of state highway construction projects in Whatcom County. State Department of Transportation Courtesy to The Bellingham Herald

Cost is estimated at $5.5 million for the part through Bellingham, which will include grinding, paving, sidewalks, and culvert work, Petrich said.

“Some of the sidewalk work we do can be done in wet weather, put the paving will have to be done when it’s hot in July and August,” she said.

Road repair and resurfacing is planned for Mount Baker Highway from Britton Road east to the Welcome area, along with similar projects on Kendall Road (Highway 547) from the Peaceful Valley area to near Sumas, and on the west end of Grandview Road (Highway 548) near Blaine Road.

All are expected to cause delays, Petrich said.

“It’s daytime work,” Petrich said. “It tends to create more traffic delays.”

Those three resurfacing projects, along with another project outside Whatcom County, will cost a combined $5.9 million, Petrich said.

Other Whatcom County road projects scheduled for this summer include work on a fish passage under Highway 9 in the Acme area, according to a map of statewide plans.

Robert Mittendorf covers civic issues, weather, traffic and how people are coping with the high cost of housing for The Bellingham Herald. A journalist since 1984, he’s also a volunteer firefighter for South Whatcom Fire Authority.

  Comments