New pavement, sidewalks and culverts, oh my!

By Frances Fedoriska

Forget yellow bricks! This spring, travelers on Mt. Baker Highway (State Route 542) in Whatcom County will follow the freshly-paved road as contractor crews begin working on two  projects to rehabilitate almost 20 miles of highway.

Resurfacing doesn't take a wizard
We didn't have to visit a wizard to make this work happen, we just had to turn to contractor crews! In May, workers from Doolittle Construction will begin resurfacing SR 542 from Britton Road on the east side of Bellingham to Markel Road in Kendall. This 18-mile section is part of a larger multi-county project preserving more than 35 miles on four different highways.
We'll get you...pretty! Resurfacing SR 542 takes multiple phases: repairing the pavement, filling cracks, putting down asphalt, putting down a new thin layer of rock surface, fog seal and finally stripe.

Contractor crews will work at night for the first few phases of the project. Then in July or August, they'll lay down the new oily surface and crushed rock and use the heat of our hot summer days to help it stick to the roadway.

No flying monkeys, but still some delays
Flying monkeys and apple-throwing trees delayed the trip to Oz and while there won't be anything quite as treacherous this summer, some disruption should be expected. During the July/August daytime work, expect delays of up to 45 minutes. As crews work, a pilot car will alternate traffic through a single open lane.

As always, pay attention and slow down near work zones to keep everyone safe.

We'll fix you my highway, and your little culvert too!
The second SR 542 project starts June 3. Contractor crews with Granite Construction will remove and replace the asphalt on all lanes of SR 542 (East Sunset Drive) between I-5 and Britton Road. Rehabbing the highway helps avoid costly repairs later.

They will also remove and improve a culvert near Dewey Road, upgrade pedestrian curb ramps and, in partnership with the city of Bellingham, add a sidewalk next to Applebee's south side.
Left: This failing culvert in Bellingham will be upsized to improve drainage capacity. Right: No yellow bricks here. Contractor crews will use concrete, yellow detectable warning surfaces and other items to improve some
pedestrian crossings along East Sunset Drive.

We'd like to welcome you to be prepared
During this construction, people who travel on SR 542 between I-5 and Britton Road will experience:
  • Nighttime lane closures, lane shifts and I-5 ramp closures.
  • Nighttime flagger-controlled intersections.
  • Sections of rough, ground-down road during daytime travel.
  • Detours for non-motorized users such as pedestrians and bicyclists.
These two projects may not happen as quickly as tapping your heels together three times, but they are both scheduled to wrap up this fall.

If I only had a heads up
Updated schedules will be posted weekly on the construction update page. Progress reports will be sent out Thursdays through the Whatcom County construction listserv.

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