Where is the Engineering
office is located at the Northwest Annex, 5280 Northwest Drive,
Suite C, Bellingham, Washington. For directions, please see
the map to
the Northwest Annex. For additional information, please contact
do I obtain publications and copies from your office?
- In person at
Drive, Suite C, Bellingham, Washington, Monday-Friday,
8:30 A.M.-4:30 P.M., except holidays.
- Via mail. Payment
must be received before copies can be mailed. Simply call
our office with your order. The cost of postage will be added
to mail-in orders. Please allow 7-10 days for delivery upon
receipt of payment in our office. Orders of five copies or
more may take longer.
there a survey of my property?
Division is the repository for all recorded surveys starting
in 1972. Long plats, short plats, and binding site plans are
also available and may provide useful survey information.
Some historical mapping and surveying information is also
available for inspection.
can I find my property line?
Some parcels are
already surveyed. Most are not. Property is bought
and sold by deeds referencing a legal description. The
legal description is sometimes shown on a subdivision map
or a record of survey, if it has been surveyed. A new
survey is provided by private land surveyors and costs from
several hundred to several thousand dollars depending on the
size and difficulty of the parcel.
- Obtain a copy of the deed.
- Visit the County Engineer and research existing maps and
surveys at the office on Northwest Drive.
- Try and find or recover any existing corners.
- Contact a Professional Land Surveyor for a survey.
do I obtain a parcel number?
For new parcel
numbers, please contact the Whatcom County Assessor at (360)
676-6790. Maps of existing parcel numbers can be obtained from the County
Assessor or our office. However, you must provide either the
owner’s full name or a site address in order for us
do I get access to my property?
Access from a County
road or County right-of-way is by permit from the Engineering
office. Construction, use, or maintenance of private easements
are regulated by Whatcom County Planning and Development Services at (360) 676-6907.
is a Revocable
can you tell me about an easement?
are granted to the public, such as utilities, drainage, and
other roadway facilities, and are declared or shown on a recorded
subdivision, the Engineering office cannot help with easements.
Easements are a private issue of title that require the original
deeds and documents available from the recording section of
the Auditor’s office or a title company.
constitutes a legal ingress/egress of record?
It is an easement
and/or a deed that has been created specifically for ingress/egress
(access and any other uses specified). It has been acknowledged
(notarized) and recorded with the County Auditor’s office.
there water/sewer service to my property?
does not provide or administer water or sewer service. Please
seek assistance from the County Health Department, at (360)
676-6724, or information from the appropriate water association,
district or municipality.
do I obtain an address for my property?
Division is the only agency that may assign addresses in unincorporated
Whatcom County. To have an address assigned to your property,
you must complete an application form and return it, along
with the $35.00 fee, to the Engineering office. The application
form is available online or by contacting the Engineering
do I find a road name?
You may purchase
a County map for $1.00 at the Engineering office. There are
also private map guides that list the road names in the County
and give their location by grid coordinates.
are the rules for having a road named?
that are used to access at least three homes may be eligible
to be named, if all property owners agree to the change. Whatcom
County requires that a private easement be named
if it is used to access five homes, or if it is used to access
three homes and is more than 1000 feet long. The name of the
private road must be approved by Emergency Services. A Road
Name Proposal application is available online or by contacting
the Engineering office.
do I find out the width of a County road?
Research is required
to determine the width of the right-of-way in front of your
individual property. Please provide your parcel number and
any other pertinent property information.
are County rights-of-way established?
can be deeded, dedicated or established by prescriptive rights
you have any job vacancies?
Please contact Whatcom
County Human Resources at
do I need a moving permit?
firm or corporation planning to move, transport or haul any
mobile home or other structure over ten feet in width or 40
feet in length through Whatcom County on any route which consists
solely of county roads and highways shall, prior to said movement
or transport, obtain a permit
from the Whatcom County Engineer.
are overweight loads?
definition of overweight loads is the same as for the Washington
State Dept. of Transportation.
issues the oversize or overweight permits?
The Whatcom County
Road Engineer is charged with the responsibility of issuing
permits for oversize or overweight, non-reducible loads for
travel over Whatcom County rights-of-way. Call the Engineering
office at (360) 676-6730 and speak to the Engineer's designated
staff person to obtain a permit.
is a bond required?
A bond is posted
if the County Road Engineer determines that the size and/or
weight of the load on the proposed route could result in damage
to the road and/or signs in the County rights-of-way. The
bond amount is determined by the County Road Engineer. A $200.00
bond is typically deposited on account with Whatcom County
for frequent house movers.
the permit be issued over the phone?
In some instances
the County Road Engineer, or designee, will issue a moving
permit by phone. The numbered, signed permit is faxed to the
mover and carried in the vehicle during the move. The County
Road Engineer can require all operators to have a copy of
the permit in the vehicle at all times. See WCC
10.32.050 - Contents and Display of Permit.
are the fines for moving oversized loads or homes without
- Over Legal Size
Load fines start at $122.00.
- Mobile Home fines
start at $255.00.
46.44 – Size, Weight, Load
are paint marks/flags on, or near, my property. What do they
These marks may
indicate a utility locate, a pending road project or survey
in your area. This may be a private project such as new construction,
or a city, county or state construction or mapping project.
Please try to determine who is doing the work prior to calling
our office. Utility locate colors indicate the presence of
the following utilities:
RED – Electric;
YELLOW – Gas or Oil; ORANGE – Telephone or Cable;
BLUE – Water; GREEN – Sewer; WHITE – Proposed
is one-call utility locate service?
It is a service,
which will locate underground utilities in order to prevent
damage or injury. Before digging, you must call the Utilities
Underground Location Center at 1-800-424-5555.
is the County surveying at this location?
Survey work is
conducted by the County for a variety of reasons:
- To locate existing County right-of-way boundaries.
- To locate lost or covered survey monumentation.
- To perform topographic surveys of a project site in order
to design improvements.
- To layout proposed right-of-way acquisitions.
- To establish elevations on existing or proposed County
structures or facilities.
- To establish pit inventory quantities.
are the standards (i.e., width, slope, surfacing) for my driveway/private
Division administers the Whatcom County Development Standards
– Chapter 5 – Road Standards, which includes both
public and private roads. Please see: Private
driveways (one and two residential units) outside of County
rights-of-way are typically reviewed by the Fire Marshal in
Planning and Development Services at (360) 676-6907.
size of easement is needed for a new development?
- Driveways—The minimum width of an easement
for driveway purposes is 30 feet.
- Private Roads—A 30-foot width will work
for a private roadway with up to 6 users. Beyond six users,
the width of the easement widens to 50 feet and 60 feet
depending on the number of users and zoned land use (rural
- Stormwater, Sanitary Sewer, and Water Lines—The
easements are typically a 20-foot minimum. However, the
purpose and use will establish the width. Some widths may
be less than 20 feet.
- Other Utilities—Power, cable, telephone,
etc., require a minimum of a 10-foot easement, but may need
more depending on the location of the easement.
The above widths
may be used for submittal of a proposal to the Engineering
Division. Please check with Engineering or the appropriate
agency for exact widths before recording any easements.
is a “paved apron”?
It’s a paved
approach to an intersecting county road extending from the
property line or a driveway approach abutting a paved public
road. For details see Drawing
508.D-4 of the Road Standards – Chapter 5.
I need a culvert?
That will be determined
by the Right-of-way Inspector after you have applied for a
size of culvert do I need?
diameter, larger if drainage requires, as directed by the
County Engineer. – County Road Standards,
type of road do I have to construct?
It depends on what
type of project you are working on (single family residence,
short plat, long plat), the land use zoning (urban or rural,
acreage tracts or not), whether the roadway being accessed
is private or public, how many homes are currently accessing
the roadway, and the condition of the roadway you will be
accessing (gravel, paved, required width). Other considerations
are necessary such as the classification of the roadway, drainage,
and the width of the ingress/egress (access) easement and/or
right-of-way. The requirements of right-of-way, width of pavement
and width of shoulders, etc. for urban and rural private and
public roads are outlined within the Whatcom County Road Standards
– Chapter 5 available at the Engineering office (360) 676-6730.
type of permit/approval do I need and how long will it take?
The permit required
depends on your development intent. You may need several permits
for one type of development activity. The list of Engineering
development permits is online.
state and local permits may be needed. Check with the local
jurisdictions/districts for water and sanitary sewer hookup
information. A good resource for checking what federal or
state permits you may need for your development is a handbook
titled “Commonly Required Environmental Permits for
Washington State” and is available for viewing or downloading
information is needed when the Engineering Division reviews
At a minimum you
will need to complete a Preliminary Traffic Analysis form
and Preliminary Stormwater Proposal and submit them with your
permit application. These forms are available online.
do I need to complete a Preliminary Stormwater Proposal?
- Chapter 2 Stormwater Management requires as a minimum that
a Preliminary Stormwater Proposal be submitted. The Proposal
is intended to provide the County with a general overview
as related to a proposed project. The information will be
used to determine which regulations apply and whether to require
a more detailed Stormwater Design Report.
do I have to improve a County road?
Typically, if you
are developing your property, you may be required to improve
a County roadway in front of your development. The increase
of lots in an area is directly related to future increased
traffic. The extent of the improvement depends on the type
of development occurring on your property, the amount of traffic
the development will generate, the condition of the existing
road, if it is within one mile of a school (sidewalks/walkways),
is percent grade?
It is a percentage
that represents the slope of the ground on your site. It is
the increase or decrease in height of the ground (uphill or
downhill) divided by the length of your site multiplied by
100 [(number of vertical feet (up or down)/ horizontal length
of hill or site) x 100]. The linked guide
may also help you to determine the percent grade/slope of
is sight distance?
There are three
types of sight distance: minimum stopping, minimum passing,
and minimum at intersections.
- Minimum Stopping Distance is the distance that
a driver can see an object on the roadway and safely stop
before making contact. It is based on the change in percent
grade (slope) and design speed of the roadway.
- Minimum Passing Sight Distance is the distance
that a driver can safely pass another vehicle and is based
on the design speed of the roadway with consideration to
roadway curves and intersections.
- Minimum Sight Distance at Intersections is a
distance that a driver or pedestrian can see an approaching
vehicle driving on the crossroad. It is based on the design
speed of the crossroad. This is the sight distance used
to evaluate driveway locations.
I bond for the improvements?
Under some circumstances
you may be able to post a security for certain required improvements,
see the Whatcom County Development Standards Chapter 5 –
Road Standards or Chapter 2 – Stormwater Management
for more details. The County Engineer shall determine improvements
for which securities may be posted.
- Building Permits and Trail Permits —All
improvements for safety and health must be completed before
- Short Plats—You may post a security for
the roadway in order to record the plat. The roadway must
be constructed before a building permit is issued on any
- Long Plats—You may post a security for
any improvements that are not required for the subdivision
to stand on its own. This means that all necessary utilities
must be available. For minor items listed on a final inspection
punch list, you may post a security, but the roadway must
be functionally constructed before a building permit is
issued on any lot.
Types of securities
include: cash deposits, assigned savings, bonds, and other
assurance devices as may be approved by the County Engineer.
The bond is obtained through a bonding or insurance company.
An assignment of savings places a hold on the agreed amount
of savings within a bank savings account.
There are also two
reasons for posting a security, work to be completed (performance
security) and a guarantee of completed work (maintenance security).
Maintenance securities are required on all work completed
on public roads and stormwater facilities. The duration is
one year for work on an existing public road and two years
for a new public road and/or stormwater facilities. These
forms are available online.
are County Road Projects funded?
County road projects
are principally funded by Local Funds generated via road taxes.
However, the use of Local County Funds can be diminished by
supplemental funds from a variety of sources. These supplemental
funds are received by applying and completing a Whatcom County
project with other counties’ and cities’ projects.
A few of the various funding sources are Federal Bridge Replacement
Funds, Federal Road Project Funds, State Transportation Improvement
Board Funds, State Rural Arterial Preservation Funds and Federal
Hazard Elimination Funds.
can I make comments on the one year and six year road programs?
Both the Annual
Road Program and the Six Year Transportation Improvement Program
are approved by the County Council and have a mandatory public
hearing process associated with them. By watching for the
announcement in the Bellingham Herald on the Council's agenda,
or calling the Public Works office, you can be informed of
when the hearings will be held. Generally, the Six Year Transportation
Improvement Program is adopted in July, and the Annual Road
Program is adopted in October.
can I request that a roadway be improved?
The Six Year Transportation
Improvement Program, with its mandatory public hearing is
the best way to get a project in front of the County Council
and give your justification for improvement. Also, you may
send a letter addressed to the County Road Engineer. Remember
that a proposed project will be competing with other county
projects based on traffic volumes, condition of the roadway,
accident history, and proposed developments in addition to
doesn’t Whatcom County install "Children at Play"
neighborhood request concerns the posting of generalized warning
signs with "SLOW CHILDREN AT PLAY" or other similar
messages. Parental concern for the safety of children in the
street near home, and a misplaced but widespread public faith
in traffic signs to provide protection often prompt these
Although some other
jurisdictions have posted such signs widely in residential
areas, studies have shown that many types of signs attempting
to warn of normal conditions in residential areas have failed
to achieve the desired safety benefits. If signs encourage
parents and children to believe they have an added degree
of protection, which the signs do not and cannot provide,
a great disservice results.
Because of these serious considerations,
Whatcom County does not install "Children At Play"
signs on county roads. This type of sign may give children
a false impression that it is safe to play in the road. It
is never safe for children to play in or near the edge of
for speed bumps to slow down the traffic
The control of speeding in residential neighborhoods, while
maintaining acceptably safe street and roadway conditions,
is a wide spread concern, which requires persistent law enforcement
effort. The inability of posted speed limit signs to curb
the intentional violator, leads to frequent requests for installation
of "speed bumps" on public roads. However, actual
tests of experimental designs have demonstrated the physical
inability of a speed bump to control all types of lightweight
and heavyweight vehicles successfully, In fact, a soft sprung
sedan is encouraged to increase speed for a better ride, while
some vehicles may lose control.
Courts have held public agencies liable
for personal injuries resulting from faulty designs. Increased
hazard to the unwary; challenges to the daredevils; disruption
of the movement of both emergency and service vehicles; and
undesirable increase in noise, have led Whatcom County to
not consider speed bumps as a standard traffic control device
on public roads.
are crosswalks defined and used?
Washington State law states that crosswalks exist at all intersections
except where prohibited by posted signs. At any crosswalk
(marked or unmarked) drivers must yield the right of way to
marked to encourage pedestrians to use a particular crossing.
The Manual on Uniform Traffic Control Devices (MUTCD) states:
"Crosswalk markings should not be used indiscriminately."
Studies conducted on the relative safety of crosswalks
support minimal installation of marked crosswalks.
The City of San Diego studied intersections
at which there were both marked and unmarked crosswalks. The
results were surprising. Although 2‑1/2 times as many
people used the marked crosswalks, 6 times as many accidents
occurred in the marked crosswalks. Such research suggests
that a marked crosswalk can give pedestrians a false sense
of security. At all crosswalks, both unmarked and marked,
it is the pedestrian’s responsibility to be cautious
and alert while crossing.
A stop sign is
one of our most valuable and effective control devices when
used at the right place and under the right conditions. It
is intended to help drivers and pedestrians at an intersection
decide who has the right-of-way.
One common misuse
of stop signs is to arbitrarily interrupt through traffic,
either by causing it to stop, or by causing such an inconvenience
as to force the traffic to use other routes. Where stop signs
are installed as "nuisances" or "speed breakers,"
there is high incidence of intentional violation. In those
locations where vehicles do stop, the speed reduction is effective
only in the immediate vicinity of the stop sign and, frequently,
speeds are actually higher between intersections. For these
reasons, it should not be used as a speed control device.
nationally recognized guidelines help to indicate when such
controls become necessary. "Because the STOP sign causes
a substantial inconvenience to motorists, it should be used
only when warranted" - Manual on Uniform Traffic Control
is the Federal
Functional Classification of this road?
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