Dredging Begins in Bellingham

Efforts to return the Squalicum Waterway to its authorized width and depth are now under way.

Earlier this month, the US Army Corps of Engineers and the Port of Bellingham launched a 45-day, $2.2 million waterfront infrastructure project, which involves dredging approximately 254,000 cubic yards of material from the waterway and transporting it by barge to disposal sites. Long Beach-based Curtin Maritime Corp has been contracted to perform the work.

“Maintenance dredging of the Squalicum Waterway is long overdue,” said Bellingham Cold Storage President Doug Thomas, whose company teamed with the port to secure the federal funding needed to perform the work.

“The federal channel was last dredged in 2004 and ongoing sedimentation has created a navigation hazard threatening the economic viability of waterfront industries like Bellingham Cold Storage which rely on a fully maintained channel,” Thomas said. “Over the past several years, vessel loading restrictions have forced us to utilize a makeshift system of loading product onto a floating barge in the middle of Bellingham Bay at considerable added expense. This system was not sustainable, and the economic development potential of our working waterfront has been compromised by increasing limitations in functionality within the Squalicum Waterway.”

By Karen Robes Meeks