Mt. Baker Road and Trail project rescheduled for next spring

The final phase of the Mount Baker Road and Trail improvement projects on Orcas Island has been rescheduled to go to bid this fall, with construction taking place next spring. The project includes road safety improvements, wetland restoration and construction of a pedestrian trail.

County Engineer Rachel Dietzman said that she had hoped the project could move forward during this calendar year, but delays in the process of securing needed federal permits have pushed the schedule back beyond this year’s construction season.

“Much of this is work that needs to be done during good weather and we don’t want to start at a time of year when we know there will be weather delays,” she said.

Dietzman said that the funding for the project remains secure. San Juan County has received a $2.516 million dollar Rural Arterial Trust Account grant from the state to help pay for design, right of way acquisition, and construction. An additional Federal Transportation Enhancement grant of $88,000 was received for the adjacent trail project. Public Works has requested federal Surface Transportation Program funding for an additional $700,000 which will be applied to both the road and trail construction.

The road upgrade will increase the width of the road between North Beach Road and Terrill Beach Road to 30 feet, including four-foot shoulders. The Terrill Beach Road intersection will be improved. Drainage will be enhanced by replacing cross culverts , and improving the function of existing storm drainage system “Narrow Area Vegetated Filter Strips” which will filter and treat stormwater to improve the quality of runoff from the road.

The project also includes a five-foot wide pedestrian trail leading from North Beach Road to the Land Bank Stonebridge Preserve access gate where it will connect to a trailhead for a future Land Bank primitive interpretive trail. The trail will be surfaced with pervious concrete North Beach Road to Buck Park, then gravel the rest of the way.

A wetland mitigation project on the Land Bank’s Stonebridge Preserve will enhance six acres of existing degraded wetlands. The mitigation design calls for widening two existing ditches into plant-filled swales and creating five shallow pools planted with thousands of wetland plants, shrubs, and trees.

Mt. Baker Road was designated by ordinance as the truck bypass route around Eastsound 15 years ago. Improvements between Lovers Lane and North Beach Road were completed in 1997.

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