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Orchard Drive extension under I-5 in Bellingham opened to traffic

Graphic overlay indicating course of Orchard Street connector. Source: City of Bellingham

BELLINGHAM, Wash. — Officials with Bellingham Public Works announced today, Friday, January 28th, a new roadway under I-5 is now open to traffic.

With final installation of the streetlights and James Street stop light, the street is open to traffic as of Jan. 28. Please note: the stop light on James Street is now active.

Bellingham Public Works (January 28, 2022)

The Orchard Drive extension project connects James Street at Orchard Drive with the Birchwood Avenue and Squalicum Parkway intersection. The project has been underway since March 2021.

The opening of the new street, previously hoped to have been accomplished late December, was delayed while awaiting installation of street lighting and signal poles.

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The new street, named Birchwood Avenue, provides a direct connection between the King Mountain neighborhood and the PeaceHealth St Joseph Medical Center. It is expected to reduce congestion on Ellis Street as well as the Meridian Street and Sunset Drive I-5 interchanges.

The new roadway includes bicycle lanes in both directions and lighted sidewalks on the north side of Orchard. A new electronic traffic signal has been installed where the road intersects with James Street.

This is the first new means to cross I-5 in Bellingham since the highway was constructed in mid-1960’s.

2 Comments

  1. Cyndy Wilson January 28, 2022

    Passed by just today…beautiful avenue 😋

  2. Jim January 30, 2022

    I would like to know if there was any research done when installing the street lights. Heading northbound on I-5 there is a streetlight at eye level right next to the overpass. It shines in your eyes & is very distracting. In bad weather it could be mistaken for a car going the wrong direction.

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