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Federal spending bill includes funding for Whatcom, Skagit projects

U.S. Rep. Rick Larsen earmarks $16M in the two counties

A construction crew works on the Mount Vernon Library Commons on Jan. 25. A $3 million earmark from U.S. Rep. Rick Larsen should make the $55 million project fully funded. (Finn Wendt/Cascadia Daily News)
By Ralph Schwartz Local Government Reporter

Major public buildings and road improvements are part of a multi-million-dollar package U.S. Rep. Rick Larsen delivered to Whatcom and Skagit counties through the latest congressional spending bill, signed by President Joe Biden Saturday, March 9.

The biggest-ticket item is an $8 million project to raise more than a quarter-mile of Slater Road by 12 feet, to reduce flooding on the main road along Lummi Reservation’s northern boundary. 

Lummi Chairman Anthony Hillaire noted in a news release from Larsen’s office that flooding can close Slater Road completely, “turning our reservation into an island.”

“The flooding of the Nooksack River has become an annual occurrence and has endangered and caused economic hardship to our community,” Hillaire said. “The benefits of this project will be overwhelming to the economy of the Lummi Nation, the City of Ferndale and all of Whatcom County.”

Mount Vernon’s ambitious Library Commons building got $3 million from Larsen, which should be enough to make the $55 million building project fully funded, said Jill Boudreau, formerly Mount Vernon’s mayor and now project administrator for the commons.

The building will become the city’s library, as well as a community center, a commercial kitchen and an electric-vehicle charging hub with at least 76 stations.

Ferndale is also planning a new civic building, and Larsen earmarked $1 million for that $15 million project. The building will serve as a new city hall, with courtroom and meeting spaces.

An architect’s rendering of Ferndale’s Civic Campus is viewed from Main Street, looking east. The building will be constructed at the site of the current city hall.

A majority of the project is funded, and the city will “issue a relatively small amount of municipal bonds in order to support the remaining costs,” Ferndale Communications Officer Megan Juenemann said.

Other local projects earmarked by Larsen:

  • Bradley Road safety improvements, Lynden: $1,616,729
  • Whatcom County skills center for high school students, through the Northwest Career and Technical Academy: $850,000
  • Rapid DNA system for the Whatcom County Sheriff’s Office: $440,000
  • Lake Whatcom Water and Sewer District reservoir replacement: $220,000
  • Concrete Sauk Valley Road stabilization: $500,000
  • Innovation center at the Sedro-Woolley Innovation for Tomorrow Center: $500,000

This story was updated at 9:42 a.m. March 13 with additional information about Ferndale’s new civic building, including an architect’s rendering.

Ralph Schwartz is CDN’s local government reporter; reach him at; 360-922-3090 ext. 107.

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