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Planning Projects

Below you will find information about state highway planning projects for Whatcom, Island and Skagit counties. The documents are in Adobe Acrobat portable document format (.pdf). You can download a free copy of Adobe Reader at the Adobe Web site.

Interstate 5

Bellingham: I-5, Bakerview interchange value planning study 
The west Bakerview overpass is a heavily traveled arterial that crosses I-5 between the Bellingham International Airport and some of Bellingham’s largest commercial and industrial centers. Improvements are needed to support additional commerce in the area. Improving the overpass is expected to have significant economic development benefits.

Our long-term plan calls for a full re-build of the interchange, which we cannot afford. In 2010, WSDOT, city of Bellingham, Whatcom County, Whatcom Council of Governments and Port of Bellingham staff completed a value planning study which recommended several cost-effective improvements to the overpass that will help reduce delays and improve safety. 

The city of Bellingham received grant funding from the Transportation Improvement Board and Whatcom County Economic Development Investment (EDI) program, and partnered with the Port of Bellingham, Whatcom County, WSDOT and private businesses to complete the $3.2 million project. The improvements were substantially completed in November 2013.

Bellingham: Interstate 5 Master Plan - Fairhaven to Slater
We analyzed current and future traffic conditions on I-5 and made recommendations for improvements to the interstate, including interchanges and connected local roads from Fairhaven Parkway (exit 250) to Slater Road (exit 260) in Whatcom County. The plan includes a list of short- and long-term projects to improve safety, help relieve congestion, and increase freight mobility through the year 2035. Improvements will be implemented as funding becomes available.

Mount Vernon: Interstate 5 Master Plan - Conway to Cook 
We analyzed current and future traffic conditions on I-5 and will make recommendations for improvements to the interstate, including interchanges and connected local roads from SR 534 in Conway (exit 221) to the Cook Road Interchange (exit 232), in Skagit County. The Plan includes a list of short- and long-term projects to improve safety, help relieve congestion, and increase freight mobility through the year 2035. Improvement projects will be implemented as funding becomes available.

SR 20

Whidbey Island: SR 20 and SR 525 - Island Concurrency Intersection Analysis
We will evaluate existing and forecasted future traffic conditions at 10 intersections on Whidbey Island. We will examine a range of alternatives, including low-cost improvements, and make recommendations to restore acceptable level of service for those intersections that are at, or are expected to fall below, the level of service standard for concurrency. The project will result in a list of priority improvement strategies.

Oak Harbor: SR 20, Swantown Road to Cabot Drive - Corridor Pre-Design Analysis 
We partnered with the City of Oak Harbor to review corridor needs and develop a detailed plan that will facilitate design and construction of future highway improvements.

SR 525

Clinton: Issue identification analysis 
We worked with the Clinton community to identify and prioritize transportation concerns along the portion of SR 525 stretching from milepost 9.38 through Clinton to the ferry dock at milepost 8.48. We initiated the report at the request of community members, who expressed concern about speed, traffic circulation at the ferry terminal, and other issues in the corridor. 

SR 530

SR 530, Sauk River Corridor Study 
Each year, the constantly shifting Sauk River threatens collapse of the roadway. Since 2003, WSDOT spent in excess of $6.1 million on SR 530 between MP 50.0 and 65.0 to address conflicts between the highway and the Sauk River. Our technical analysis suggested that minor realignments and armoring (i.e. log crib wall treatments) are the most promising strategies for providing benefits in the next 20 years. We concluded that proceeding with the programmed minor realignment at MP 59.5 is the most beneficial next investment to address conflicts between SR 530 and the Sauk River.


SR 531

Arlington: 43rd to 67th corridor pre-design 
Together with the city of Arlington, we have identified current and future safety and mobility needs on SR 531 between 43rd Avenue NE and 67th Avenue NE. The purpose of this analysis was to update previous work by WSDOT and city of Arlington and provide a reliable preliminary cost estimate and footprint that accounts for likely risks to budget and project delivery. Although there is no funding currently available to implement recommended improvements, the corridor pre-design is a necessary first step toward making future improvements in the corridor and will guide decision-makers as they seek funding for projects.

SR 538

Mount Vernon: College Way Value Planning Study 
Improvements are needed to address existing and forecasted traffic congestion on College Way (SR 538) in the vicinity of the I-5/SR 538 interchange. Our long-term plan calls for a full rebuild of the interchange that we cannot presently afford. As a lower-cost alternative, we evaluated a proposal to fit additional lanes on College Way under the existing I-5 interchange bridge to move traffic and reduce the potential for backups on I-5.

SR 539

Bellingham: SR 539, I-5 improved access project
Completed in April 2007, the SR 539/I-5 Improved Access Project examined existing causes of congestion and evaluated alternatives to reduce congestion, improve safety and enhance freight mobility. The purpose of this traffic analysis is to identify existing and future safety and congestion problems on the Guide Meridian (SR 539); to determine why these problems occur; and, if diverting traffic to one or more new east-west connectors in northern Whatcom County in the vicinity of the SR 539 corridor would reduce traffic volume on SR 539 in congested segments of the corridor.

SR 539‐Guide Meridian, I‐5 to Horton: Traffic Improvements
This pre‐design analysis, completed Oct. 2011, is a precursor to a full design and engineering effort that gave us an opportunity to assess several options before selecting improvements for the highway. With support from city of Bellingham we completed technical analysis and solicited public input to complete the evaluation.


SR 542

Whatcom County: Mount Baker Highway scenic byway management plan - The Mt. Baker Highway Scenic Byway Management Plan was established to identify the roles and responsibilities of the U.S. Forest Service and Washington State Department of Transportation (WSDOT) in the coordination of transportation activities along State Route 542 within the National Forest Service Boundary.


Bakerview to Grandview Sub-Regional Transportation Analysis
This project will analyze the state and regional transportation system in the Bellingham/Ferndale area to examine existing and future transportation system needs, support community comprehensive plans and identify cost effective strategies and improvements that will keep people and goods moving to support the regional economy, the environment and communities in the study area.

In partnership with the Whatcom Council of Governments, WSDOT is evaluating this area now because employment, population, and land-use forecasts indicate that it will experience significant growth, including housing and commercial development.

Study results will help inform local, regional, state and federal transportation agencies and the public about current transportation conditions, future needs and potential improvement strategies.

Intelligent Transportation System (ITS)

ITS remains one of the most inexpensive ways to reduce traffic congestion and improve safety. ITS investments integrate advanced communication technologies into transportation infrastructure, allowing WSDOT to provide information such as real-time traffic conditions and travel times. This information helps manage transportation demands and relieve congestion. 


For more information about planning projects in Whatcom, Island or Skagit county, please contact:

John Shambaugh, planning manager, 360-757-5981
Tom Stacey, transportation planner, at 360-757-5982
Elizabeth Sjostrom, transportation planner, at 360-757-5984