I-5 and SR 11 Padden Creek - Fish Passage

Project news

  • WSDOT will construct this project through the design build process.
  • Requests for proposals opened on Tuesday, Jan. 21, 2020.
  • Notice to proceed will be issued on Wednesday, July 15, 2020.
  • Travelers can sign up for email updates on this and other Whatcom County highway projects.

Needs & benefits

Padden Creek supports the runs of Coho and Chum salmon and migrating Chinook salmon and Steelhead trout. Removing two barriers, one under State Route 11 at 30th Street, the other under Interstate 5 south of the SR 11/Old Fairhaven Parkway on- and off-ramps, will improve habitat for migratory species and other wildlife along the 2.7 miles of Padden Creek between Padden Lake and Bellingham Bay.

These two barriers currently have slopes that prevent fish passage. The contractor will decide on the final design, which, in addition to improved fish and wildlife habitat, could incorporate:

  • Improvements for those who use sidewalks and crosswalks at SR 11 and 30th Street.

History of teamwork
This project builds upon WSDOT’s existing partnership with the city of Bellingham. In 2015, we worked with the city to daylight a section of Padden Creek from a 120-year-old tunnel. The project moved the creek into a new channel, restoring 2,300 feet of Padden Creek to improve fish habitat and reduce flooding risks to 159 homes in the Happy Valley neighborhood.

What travelers can expect
Current Padden Creek culverts run under two busy traffic corridors. WSDOT will work closely with the contractor to minimize the inconvenience to neighbors and travelers. Lane, bike lane and sidewalk closures, delays and construction noise should be expected as these culverts are improved.


Nov. 4, 2019: Requests for qualifications advertised.
Jan, 21, 2020: Requests for Proposals advertised.
July 15, 2020: Notice to proceed issued.
Summer 2020: Project design begins.
Spring/summer 2021: Project construction begins.
Fall 2022: Construction complete.


The current estimated cost of this project is $20-30 million.


Tom Pearce

Mikkel Lamay
Project Engineer

A small map of Bellingham's Fairhaven area where WSDOT will improve Padden Creek habitat under SR 11 and I-5.

A small map of Bellingham's Fairhaven area where WSDOT will improve Padden Creek habitat under SR 11 and I-5.