Each year Whatcom County Public Works selects roadways for preventative maintenance known as bituminous surface treatment, or commonly known as chip sealing. Most areas are selected on a rotating 10-12 year cycle. Roadways in three areas of Whatcom County - the Lummi Nation, Lummi Island, and areas north of Ferndale – are scheduled for chip seal work this summer. Lummi Nation roadways in the Kel Bay Development are scheduled first, starting on June 22. Lummi Island roadway work is expected to start around July 6, the exact start date is dependent on weather and other factors. After island roadways are completed, crews will work on additional Lummi Nation roadways, then areas north of Ferndale.
Drivers should plan to use alternate routes during project work and expect delays. Speed limits will be lowered to 25mph in work zones, and the Whatcom County Sheriff’s Office will have extra emphasis patrols to ensure safety.
“Road delays are never an enjoyable part of summer driving and we appreciate everyone’s patience,” said Jon Hutchings, Public Works Director. “While this work will last a few months, the benefits will last for decades.”
Tips for drivers during chip seal work:
- Use alternate routes or plan for delays.
- Slow down to 25mph in work zones.
- Avoid distractions when driving through these areas.
- The chip sealing process means there may be lose gravel on the roadway. Leave plenty of room between your vehicle and the one in front of you to avoid flying rocks.
- Avoid parking alongside affected roadways. Loose gravel or chip sealant could damage vehicles left along roadways during construction.
This summer Public Works will chip seal approximately 65 miles of Whatcom County roads. This program has substantial benefits for local roadways and the drivers who use them, including:
- Improves safety and creates a highly skid-resistant surface.
- Saves money and is 80 percent cheaper than a new pavement overlay.
- Extends the life of pavement.
- Waterproofs the surface.
- Prevents potholes and seals cracks, keeping water from seeping into the roadway structure.
Sign up for our weekly email newsletter to get updates on this and other projects every Friday. Visit the Maintenance and Operations Department webpage.