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Maintenance and Operations (M & O) Division



Structures Section - the bridge crew, maintains the bridges, guardrails, seawalls, bulkhead retaining walls, and ferry docks in Whatcom County.  This seven-person crew includes two heavy equipment operators and five truck driver/laborers Ferry dock who work with various types of equipment ranging from a shovel to a 25-ton crane and an 18-ton boom truck.

By mandate, every bridge (151 at last count) is inspected bi-annually.  Public Works Engineering inspects the structures, then prepares a report describing the maintenance work M&O needs to perform.  Working with the inspector, M&O decides the best course of action (replacement or repair) and who will perform the work (private contractors or the M&O crew).

Scheduling of structure repairs or replacement includes permit acquisition and determination of the "fish window" as most structures provide access to upstream habitat for native fish species.  A "fish window", usually June 15 - September 30, may be the only opportunity to rebuild or replace bridges or complete any other major repair or replacement projects. 

M&O works closely with the county's habitat biologist and state or federal fish and wildlife personnel to acquire the necessary permits.  The identification and relocation, if necessary, of all power, phone, gas lines, and any other utility lines occurs in cooperation with the local utilities.  This is becoming more of a challenge every year as the major utilities centralize their offices either out of town or even out of Washington State. Bridge

Bridge maintenance is also responsible for the crack-sealing program, coordinating with Engineering to eliminate any unnecessary work or conflicts with upcoming major projects.  Bridge maintenance also coordinates with the other M&O crews paying particular attention to the chip-seal road list.

There are a number of different standards and types of guardrails currently in use.  An inventory of guardrail is maintained by location, length, type, and condition.

The ferry docks require a yearly inspection and occasionally, an emergency repair project.