Project Overview: ES-0500
The Washington State Department of Transportation (WSDOT) completed the "Fairhaven to Slater Interstate 5 Master Plan" in November of 2008, with a recommendation to construct a "Single Point Urban Interchange (SPUI)" at the West Bakerview/I-5 interchange. The estimated cost to construct a SPUI was $40 million and both the City of Bellingham and WSDOT acknowledged that this level of funding was unlikely in the foreseeable future.
This led to the 2011 WSDOT Value Planning Study (VPS) for the West Bakerview/I-5 Interchange, which identified $3.5 million in low-cost short-term improvements that were constructed by Bellingham in 2013 with funding partners (Whatcom County, Economic Development Investment Board, Port of Bellingham, Fred Meyer, and Transportation Improvement Board). The 2011 VPS also identified future improvement options that could be constructed, but would first require the City to fund and engage in an Interchange Justification Report (IJR) process with WSDOT, Federal Highway Administration (FHWA), Whatcom County, Port of Bellingham, Whatcom Transportation Authority (WTA), Ferndale, and Lummi Nation.
The City of Bellingham provided $250,000 to fund the IJR process and contracted with WSDOT staff to lead this effort, beginning in January 2015. Multiagency meetings occurred every month at WSDOT offices and a set of 17 alternatives were narrowed to five alternatives for in-depth transportation analysis to identify the best option for improving multimodal safety, mobility, and circulation while reducing traffic congestion across the I-5 overpass to support economic development in northwestern Bellingham. In 2015, Bellingham successfully lobbied the Washington legislature to appropriate $10 million in "Connecting Washington" gas tax funds for future interchange improvements at West Bakerview/I-5, with funding available for design and right-of-way acquisition in 2017-2018 and construction anticipated in 2019-2020.
A public Open House was held from 7:00 - 9:00pm on Tuesday, October 25, 2016 at Alderwood Elementary School in Bellingham with over 100 people in attendance. The IJR process concluded in December 2016 with a unanimous multi-agency recommendation for a northbound on-ramp on the east side of I-5 as a short-term improvement, as well as a set of scalable improvements that could be constructed in step-wise fashion over time, as needed and as funding becomes available.
The $10 million in Connecting Washington funds is now in the WSDOT budget and the recommended northbound on-ramp has been in the Preliminary Engineering/Design/Right-of-Way Acquisition phase since 2017.
Please contact WSDOT Planning Manager John Shambaugh at ShambaJ@wsdot.wa.gov for any additional information regarding the Interchange Justification Report (IJR) process, documents, or recommendations.
Please contact WSDOT Project Engineer Gabe Ng at NgGabe@wsdot.wa.gov for any additional information regarding the status of this project.
- Status: Multi-Agency Interchange Justification Report (IJR) in process (2015-2016)
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- Vicinity Map