Monday, June 06, 2016

Will north leg of Boulevard Park Walkway ever be built?

While Bellingham residents are, for the most part, celebrating the likely death of a coal port that was proposed, near town, the extension of Boulevard Park "over water" walkway may be dead as well. Lummi Indian concern about tidelands and fishing habitat is credited with saving our region from the perils of a coal terminal, but it also has lead to more paperwork and complexity when building anything on our waters. The Lummi's have been, at least, slow to sign off on the project. Other concerns cropped up as well so the whole thing has been stalled in delays. Now it looks like time has expired on some important federal and state grants so that pot of money has evaporated. According to an editorial in Cascadia Weekly's, Gristle column of 5/25/2016 "Roads To Nowhere", it looks like the walkway is dead.

The south "over water" walkway was completed several years ago and is a very popular attraction. The north walkway would have helped in development of Bellingham's central waterfront left behind when Georgia Pacific Pulp Mill closed. Plans for redeveloping that piece of waterfront are progressing at a snail's pace.

As for bicycle and pedestrian trail connections across our city, the walkway would have been redundant. We already have the South Bay Trail that pretty much goes the same route. Still, the "over water" walkway would have been a popular amenity for tourists and economic development in the waterfront. Also, it would have provided a level pedestrian / bike connection along the waterfront avoiding a gradual hill up into downtown Bellingham.

Maybe someday, as the central waterfront gets more developed, the proposal will come alive again.

I took the above photo near where that walkway was proposed.

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