More traffic expected on Fairhaven streets from wastewater plant construction

Retailers and shoppers in Bellingham’s Fairhaven District can expect heavier road traffic over the next two years as improvements and upgrades are made to the nearby Post Point Wastewater Treatment Plant.

From Aug. 13-17, the increased traffic will be on Harris and McKenzie avenues and 4th and 10th streets as dirt, clay and other debris excavated from the Post Point site is hauled away in trucks, according to an announcement from the city’s Public Works Department.

Mike Olinger, a Public Works inspection supervisor, said the heaviest hauling has likely already occurred. But trucks on the streets should become a familiar site for drivers in the area as the construction project continues, he said.

“There’s going to be truck traffic for the next two years,” Olinger said. “To one extent or the other, there’s going to be truck traffic coming and going almost every day.”

Traffic will be particularly heavy once excavation work is complete and contractors begin pouring concrete at the Post Point site—a stage at least 6 weeks out, according to Olinger. By then, on certain days, between 25-30 trucks could move through Fairhaven streets within two-to-three-hour periods, Olinger said.

The streets experiencing the increased traffic cut through the Fairhaven District’s retail center. Harris Avenue bisects the neighborhood and provides access to Fairhaven Station and the Bellingham Cruise Terminal.

The $48 million Post Point Wastewater Treatment Plant project began late July. Construction crews are adding new facilities at the plant to increase its treatment capacity and keep it in compliance with state Department of Ecology permit requirements. Mortensen Construction, a Minneapolis, Minn.-based company with an office in Seattle, is the project’s contractor.

The construction is the largest capital project the city has undertaken since a wastewater plant expansion in 1993, according to city officials. The current project should be complete by July 2014.

City officials are publishing online biweekly newsletters about the project. Residents can also attend meetings on alternating Fridays from 7-8 a.m. at 206 McKenzie Ave., to get updates. The next meeting is scheduled for Aug. 24.

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