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The Port has awarded Tacoma-based American Construction Company with a $30.6 million contract to clean-up the Whatcom Waterway on Bellingham’s downtown waterfront. Construction is set to begin this August and be completed by mid-2016.
The Whatcom Waterway is contaminated by heavy industrial activities at Georgia-Pacific’s former chemical plant dating back to the 1960s. Cleaning up the Whatcom Waterway will transform the shorelines and set the stage for the Port and City of Bellingham’s efforts to redevelop Bellingham’s downtown waterfront.
“The Whatcom Waterway is the largest cleanup site in Bellingham Bay” said Port Environmental Director, Mike Stoner. “Cleaning up this legacy of industrial contamination will protect the environment, restore salmon habitat, improve public access, and allow us to reestablish the economic viability of the central waterfront for the next generation of uses.”
“The Whatcom Waterway cleanup project is essential to the redevelopment of Bellingham’s downtown waterfront” said Bellingham Mayor Kelli Linville. “It will be fantastic to finish this phase of work so the City can begin building parks and roads to access the waterfront.”
On the south side of the Whatcom Waterway near the Granary Building, new beaches will support public access and salmon recovery. On the north side, new bulkheads, pilings and docks will support ongoing marine trade activities, including a barge terminal and boatyard.
Cleaning up the Whatcom Waterway will provide a significant boost to the local economy. The Department of Ecology estimates the project will generate $490 million in business revenue, $90 million in local tax revenue, and create between 500 and 2000 construction jobs and long-term employment opportunities.
“There will be a tremendous amount of economic activity associated with the Whatcom Waterway cleanup” said Port Executive Director Rob Fix. “The combination of short-and long term economic benefits will serve as a platform for job creation and tax growth as we return this property to productive use and connect downtown Bellingham to the central waterfront.”
The Whatcom Waterway cleanup is being paid for by a combination of state cleanup grants and the Port’s pre-paid environmental insurance policy.
Most of the cleanup work will take place in the inner Whatcom Waterway between the Roeder Avenue Bridge and the Bellingham Shipping Terminal.
As part of the cleanup project, American Construction Company will:• Remove 159,000 cubic yards of contaminated marine sediment.• Remove 263 tons of creosote-treated timber.• Remove concrete and asphalt rubble and other debris from 46,950 square feet of shoreline and intertidal areas.• Open 4,300 square feet of shoreline and intertidal area by removing unused structures.• Place 126,600 cubic yards of clean material.• Remove three vertical creosote bulkheads and build flatter shorelines.
A second phase of work for the Whatcom Waterway, to start at a later date, will address contamination in the outer waterway and Aerated Stabilization Basin.