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The missing Link

By On
• In Bellingham,

Bellingham periodically considers new “signature events”. These typically involve lodging taxes and are designed to encourage overnight stays by tourists

Last time around, it ended up being the Bellingham Waterfront and Seafood Festival which apparently occurred this fall.

I didn’t go. I’m already flush with local seafood and I don’t really like big events with a lot of people. More importantly, things like this occur at specific times and I’m often busy. I like things you can do anytime, like visit Mud Bay, or Whatcom falls, bike some trails, etc. I prefer fewer planned events that require scheduling and more things you can do anytime you please. Special events usually just drop off my schedule.

The Taylor street dock and over the water walkway are a great example of an anytime thing. Folks use this day and night, rain or shine. I don’t know how many come and stay overnight, but those with rooms at the nearby hotels probably indulge the delight. Plans to extend the walkway from the north end of Boulevard Park to the foot of Cornwall have fallen on hard times - an issue with plenty of wrinkles we will not try to fathom here.

Some of the money is left and I think if we want to get folks to spend the night and their money, we need more things like this. When a family or group has to plan to arrive along with everyone else to meet a scheduled event, let’s face it, it can be a hassle. But if we just make a ton of interesting things to do anytime you can arrive, it benefits locals and tourists can come enjoy them anytime.

Take a look at the Capilano suspension bridge.

According to wikipedia, “The Capilano Suspension Bridge is a simple suspension bridge crossing the Capilano River in the District of North Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada. The current bridge is 140 metres (460 ft)[1] long and 70 metres (230 ft) above the river. It is part of a private facility with an admission fee, and draws over 800,000 visitors a year.”

You can find more information here.

Many of us have enjoyed the Interurban Trail heading south from Old Fairhaven Parkway. It’s a great way to access many attractions in the Chuckanut Mountains and Larrabee State Park.

According to other sources, “The Bellingham and Skagit Interurban was an electric railway that operated on a picturesque 27-mile route between Bellingham in Whatcom County and Mount Vernon in Skagit County for 18 years between 1912 and 1930.” And, “From its Bellingham terminal at the Pike Block building on the corner of Elk (later State) and Holly streets, the line proceeded south into the Fairhaven district on 10th Street, swung east along Padden Creek, then turned south again between 23rd and 24th streets and ascended to the 700-foot long Chuckanut Creek Bridge (also called Hibridge, since it crossed a 130-foot-deep ravine) near what in 2014 is the southern end of Bellingham’s city limits.”

This is where the simplest enjoyment of the existing trail ends, because to continue south, you have to drop down to the bottom of the ravine and then climb back out. That’s a lot of work, even if you’re in good shape.

This is the missing link - where a suspension bridge is desperately needed - an over the ravine walkway, if you will. The foundations are already in place. We already purchased the 100 acre woods, an impressive addition to Fairhaven Park. Fairhaven Park could become the “Gateway to the Chuckanuts”, and a new high bridge could facilitate an inviting access to a wealth of recreational opportunity that could draw visitors from anywhere at their leisure. It seems like a great way to leverage our City assets to capitalize on more regional attractions.

BTW, these bridges are not that expensive. They are commonly employed to increase mobility in walking cultures.

About Tip Johnson

Writer • Member since Jan 11, 2008

Tip Johnson is a longtime citizen interest advocate with a record of public achievement projects for good government and the environment. A lifelong student of government, Tip served two terms [...]

Comments by Readers

Dick Conoboy

Dec 15, 2016

I’m with you Tip.  Skip the crowds.  All I experience with large events is noise, litter, drunks, pollution and time wasted getting to and from these sites.  We have lost our capacity for quiet enjoyment.

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Geoff Middaugh

Dec 15, 2016

I like your idea, but of course it would never happen in Bellingham.   I worked with a group called Conservation VIP, who built two hiking suspension bridges in Patagonia’s Torres Del Paine National Park.    What they did as an all volunteer group was trully amazing, and can be found at:

 https://conservationvip.org/special-projects/special-projects-bridge-first-quebrada/

I watched them build these bridges half a world away, through dedication, smarts, and hard work.    In Bellingham, the OWW was a simple, popular  project that failed due to poor civic leadership, and an ignorant federal bureauracy.   When you want the full tragic comedic story, let me know.   

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Ron Judd

Dec 23, 2016

Tip, reconnecting the “missing link” on the Interurban is a fantastic idea, and should be pursued, if it hasn’t already. I would argue that it needn’t be an either/or with community events, however. I could live without some of these, as well, but I did wander into the recent Seafest and found it to be a pretty worthy endeavor. It was impressive to see all the town’s maritime-connected businesses, nonprofits, tribes and other entities all together in one place at the same time, reemphasizing the one thing that connects us all.  

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