No one who lives in Birch Bay knew the effects that Monday’s storm would have. It was widespread and affected our entire beachfront. Birch Bay Drive was shut down for hours as the storm struck, with logs, gravel and seaweed being tossed into the road, businesses flooded, and serious damage to one local restaurant and it will be days before cleanup is complete. What caused this?
A normal 10.5′ high winter tide combined with a low pressure system, high winds and the moon phase. However it was also caused due to the degradation and loss of the natural Birch Bay shore over the last fifty years. It was a stark example of why we need the Birch Bay Drive & Pedestrian Facility Project through Whatcom County.
Whatcom County is both committed and moving forward with the Birch Bay Drive & Pedestrian Facility Project which includes the restoration of the Birch Bay Shoreline. This project is happening and has strong support from our Congressional delegation as well as the Washington State Department of Ecology and a host of other Federal, State and Local agencies, as well as support from the Birch Bay Steering Committee and the Birch Bay Chamber of Commerce.
During the week of December 3, Whatcom County project staff, along with Kathy Berg representing the Birch Bay Steering Committee and John Gargett representing the Birch Bay Chamber of Commerce, interviewed the five firms responding to the Request for Qualifications to hire a lead Design and Engineering Consultant. The firms were; CH2M Hill, Inc., David Evans & Associates, KPFF, Reichhardt & Ebe, and Reid Middleton, Inc. All these firms gave excellent presentations and Whatcom County is now evaluating the outcome and will enter into negotiations with the finalist. This is a significant step forward for our Birch Bay Community.
It is anticipated that the outcome of the selected Consultant’s work will include the design of a restored shoreline, underground utilities, bike lanes and pedestrian walkways. Perhaps the greatest outcome of this restoration of our beachfront may be that the storm effects our community faced this week will be greatly reduced. This is because the loss of our beach, coupled with the rock and concrete sea walls are making matters worse. With the restoration, there will be a restored beach that will enable winter storms to wash naturally up the shore minimizing the risk of overtopping and flooding.
The next step, once the negotiation with the finalist is complete, will be the design and engineering study, along with Phase 1 construction that will start in 2014. While the final design is still under development, the following two pictures demonstrate the before (current situation on left) with a possible conceptual design (upon completion on right). This is another exciting step forward for our community!
For more information you can visit the Birch Bay Waterfront webpage. (www.birchbaywaterfront.org)