Problems and Setbacks
Work on paving the new 8.8-mile cutoff had commenced on May 1, 1928, by the Norris Bros. construction firm out of Burlington, and work on the Dakota Creek Bridge had started earlier, on February 15, 1928. The bridge contractor, P. Manson & Son, spent until March 13 "rigging up his pile driver and driving false piles" ("Final Record Notes"). Then he began excavating the north-end pier and on March 23 began driving foundation piles.
Manson soon ran into problems, because the 2,000-pound hammer proved "too light" for this difficult job ("Final Record Notes"). This problem "slowed up the progress of the pile driving throughout the entire job," according to the state engineer's official report on the job ("Final Record Notes"). However, by May 4, the "excavation, piles, seal and footings" in three of the piers were completed. On that day, another setback occurred when "the forms for column #1 broke loose and the column had to be torn out and rebuilt" ("Final Record Notes"). Because of these delays, an extension for the bridge's completion from June 15 to September 15 was granted.
Work Going Nicely
However, during the ensuing weeks, "the work went very nicely, all phases being carried ahead simultaneously" ("Final Record Notes"). The rest of the pier footings were completed, as well as most of the seven spans and columns, by June 28. The bridge's girders and decks were poured by August 7. The "last of the concrete" was in by August 28 ("Final Record Notes").
For the next few weeks, the contractor was engaged in "backfilling, finishing and cleaning up around the bridge." The official date of the bridge's completion was September 21, 1928. It was a few days past the deadline, but this was not crucial because evidently the paving of the 8.8-mile cutoff was still underway. On October 12, 1928, the "final touches to the new highway link" were being completed ("Paved Cut-Off to Blaine"). On the morning of October 13, 1928, the "barricades on the road were removed for travel" ("Paved Cut-Off To Blaine"). The opening of the bridge and of this new section of the Pacific Highway occurred "without any attendant ceremony" ("Paved Cut-Off to Blaine").
A More Modern Highway
This was front-page news in Whatcom County because it reduced the driving time significantly from Ferndale to Blaine. It not only shortened the old, indirect route, but also provided a faster and more modern highway. The "paving was twenty feet in width and has a road bed of 34 feet, with seven-foot shoulders on each side" ("Paved Cut-Off To Blaine"). The entire project cost about $300,000 -- $246,000 was for the new highway and "between $45,000 and $50,000" for the Dakota Creek Bridge ("Paved Cut-Off to Blaine").
This part of the Pacific Highway, later designated Primary State Highway No. 1, served as the main north-south route in the state until 1963, when it was replaced by Interstate 5, on a nearby, parallel route. The old Pacific Highway in this stretch was renamed Portal Way. The bridge, now called the Portal Way/Dakota Creek (Bridge No. 500), continues to carry two lanes of traffic and pedestrians on Portal Way. The bridge was scheduled for a $3.3 million seismic retrofit, to be completed by late 2015.