Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Work is complete

This may or may not come as a bit of a surprise, but we're all finished with our work on the Guide Meridian. That's right, the Guide is now construction free.

There are a few little things we have left to finish, but they are all off the roadway.

Thank you for your patience throughout the work - I know it wasn't easy at times.

I hope you enjoy your new and improved Guide Meridian.

Thursday, July 8, 2010

City to remove old railroad tracks

This isn't related to any of the work we're doing on the Guide, but I figured that since it's happening on a part of the Guide, it's probably worth sharing. Here's the news release I got from the city of Bellingham:

Railroad track removal on Meridian Street
Beginning at 9 a.m. Friday, July 9, traffic on Meridian Street near Birchwood Avenue will be reduced to single lanes each way to allow removal of unused railroad crossing signals.

Midvale Electric, under agreement with Burlington Northern Santa Fe Railway (BNSF) and the City of Bellingham, will remove the crossing signals on Friday and relocate them to Beaudry Road in Moxee, WA. Rather than recycle the signals as scrap, the creative reuse will save resources while improving a hazardous track crossing in eastern Washington. Work on the signal removal will be completed in one day.

Monday through Wednesday, July 12-14, BNSF and City of Bellingham Public Works crews will remove the crossing panel and railroad track in preparation for an overlay of asphalt. Again traffic will be reduced to one lane in each direction.

Flaggers will direct traffic through the lane closures in the construction zone. Drivers are encouraged to plan now to avoid the area if possible and to use caution if travel in the construction zone is necessary.

For more information, call the Bellingham Public Works Department at 778-7700.

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Fixing the bumps

I'm sure this will be happy news for many of you who cross the Nooksack River overflow bridges on a regular basis: Crews will start repairing the bumps this week. The downside, though, is that the work will take several weeks to complete and we'll have a lane closed until it's done.

If they just paved, why are there bumps?
Remember, we're talking about the existing overflow bridge in the northbound direction - not the new one we just built in the southbound direction. The bridge was built with expansion joints. The expansion joints - staying true to their name - allow the bridge to expand and contract as necessary as the temperature rises and falls. We don't pave over the joints, just right up to the edge of them. Everywhere you feel a bump is at an expansion joint. Ordinarily, the transition would be smooth, but the expansion joints are no longer flat; they have rutted with age. By the way, they're about 17 years old.

Taking measurements of the rutted expansion joints.

How do we fix the problem?
We will tear out and replace the expansion joints. The new joints should help smooth things out across the bridge.

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Things people do in roundabouts

I had a nice surprise on Tuesday when I drove the length of the Guide - all the lanes were open and the barrels were gone. Wow, what a change from the original two-lane roadway that used to be there. Even though it was just after 5 p.m. - during "rush hour" - I was still able to get from Bellingham to Lynden quickly and easily.

But, enough of that; moving on to the subject line...

On my way back from Lynden, I saw a driver do something in the Ten Mile Road roundabout I hadn't seen before. The driver stopped in the roundabout to yield to us outside the roundabout. I'm not sure why, but they did. They had the right of way. (Roundabout rule: always yield to vehicles inside the roundabout.) Several vehicles, including myself, stopped for the pickup truck. When we saw that the pickup truck was not going to go, we went.

You know what I said to my wife after we got through the roundabout? I said, "Drivers make mistakes at roundabouts, but at least the speeds are slow enough that we can usually avoid them without getting in a collision."

What wacky things have you seen drivers do in the Guide roundabouts?

Thursday, June 24, 2010

A peek inside a catch basin

Have you ever wondered what it looks like beneath those manhole covers along the road? Well, hopefully these pictures satisfy your curiosity.

This crewmember is working inside a catch basin beneath the Guide Meridian.

Working inside a highway catch basin

A catch basin is simply the junction of two or more pipes. It's a location where we can get in and clean out the pipes and make repairs if necessary. The pipes transfer highway water runoff to retention ponds.

Inside the catch basin

The entrance to the catch basin

Friday, June 11, 2010

Lane lines scheduled for next week

As it currently stands, the paint and plastic striping crews are scheduled to do the lane lines and markings Friday, June 18. The work will take most of the day and crews will flip-flop traffic around to get everything completed.

Of course, this is weather dependent and will be rescheduled if necessary. Though, the weather "gurus" are forecasting a stretch of nice weather starting this weekend. Let's hope it lasts.

You know we're getting closer to finish the project when the posts start focusing on striping the highway and not much else. We're definitely in the home stretch.

Friday, June 4, 2010

Bridge uncovered and painting nearly done

Crews finished the bulk of the painting this week and have untarped the Nooksack River bridge near Lynden. All that's left now is touch-up painting, and that can be done with traffic on the bridge.

Early Monday morning, June 7, crews will switch southbound drivers back onto the bridge. The switch should be relatively painless and shouldn't cause too long of delays for the early-morning drivers. We'll keep one lane closed on the bridge to finish up the last of the painting.

After traffic is switched, crews will start tearing out the temporary asphalt crossovers that were used to switch drivers back and forth between the north- and southbound lanes.