If you can see Mt. Baker, you are part of The Experience

Galbraith parking lot project gets funding

The project site on November 22, 2021. Ian Haupt photo

Safe public parking available spring 2022

by Ian Haupt

In October, Recreation Northwest executive director Todd Elsworth presented the Whatcom Mountain Bike Coalition (WMBC) with a check for $100,000, helping to complete their goal to build a safe public parking lot on South Samish Way. The $100,000 was donated on behalf of an anonymous donor, according to a Recreation Northwest press release, and presented at the Shoot the Trails fundraising event October 9 at the Kulshan Trackside Beer Garden.

“With the parking lot complete, we won’t have little kids trying to exit their parents’ cars on a road where people often drive 50 mph (or faster) and road riders will have more of a shoulder to safely ride their bikes again,” said Eric Brown, WMBC executive director, in the press release. “The issue of safe access has reached a critical point for safety concerns.”

The purpose of the new $425,000 parking lot is to provide safer access to the south entrance of Galbraith Mountain and the Lake Padden trails for bikers and hikers. On any given weekend, cars and trucks overflow the current small parking lot off of South Samish Way. Most end up parking on the side of the roadway, putting them in danger of passing traffic.

With 140 spots, the new lot will offer four times the parking space. It will also have longer stalls to accommodate for longer vehicles and bike racks, two vault toilets, and a kiosk with maps and information.

Plans for the new parking lot project. Courtesy WMBC

WMBC raised more than $180,000 through individual donations and received an $86,000 donation from the Rotary Club of Bellingham, among other sources.

The project will be completed by spring 2022. The second phase of the project wrapped at the end of November, reopening the original lot for the winter. The third phase is scheduled to begin March 2022.

WMBC board president Bill Hasenjaeger said the project’s completion is dependent on temperature and when the construction contractor can lay asphalt. During the winter, a handful of small tasks will be done to prep the lot for the final phase. Ram Construction General Contractors will then lay asphalt in the spring when temperatures are right.

“Laying asphalt will be the last thing done, which is weather dependent,” Hasenjaeger said.

He also said Whatcom County will be installing a lighted crosswalk on Samish Way from the new parking lot to Galbraith Lane. This will connect the Lake Padden trails with Galbraith Mountain. At the time of publication, the county had yet to approve the crosswalk.

“Recreation Northwest and WMBC have worked together over the years to help further our shared values as related to our complimentary mission statements,” Ellsworth said in the release. “When our Angel donor offered to help our friends get their parking lot to the finish line, we were ecstatic to be able to offer the gift.”

For more information on the project, visit wmbcmtb.org/galbraithparking. x