Whatcom County, WA

Goal 2: Develop and enhance critical infrastructure that promotes economic development and resiliency.

Utilities and Transportation Infrastructure

In order to facilitate countywide coordination and cost-savings, in 2019 with funding from Whatcom County, the Port of Bellingham’s economic development staff undertook an infrastructure GIS data collection project that included many jurisdictions and communities along the I-5 Corridor. While each jurisdiction within Whatcom County maintains its own utility and infrastructure data, prior to this project there was no single web map or agency that a user could go to in order to view all available data in Whatcom County. 

The map below shows the data collected to date for water, sewer, stormwater, electric, fiber, and transmission lines. Layers on zoning and critical areas are also available.

The first part of this project, referred to as the I-5 Corridor Study used infrastructure data to determine the ease of developability on any particular parcel in the study. This can be used to develop and extend infrastructure in an efficient way that will maximize regional benefits.

The plan is to expand the current infrastructure GIS database to all of Whatcom County,  starting with Everson, Nooksack, Sumas, and the Columbia Valley.  The project will also identify additional infrastructure data of interest, as well as environmental and climate

We intend for public works, planners, policymakers, developers, and a wide variety of stakeholders to use this data in order to make development decisions, with a particular emphasis on reducing the cost of developing affordable housing and worker housing options.

Broadband Infrastructure

Broadband infrastructure is critical to the growth of Whatcom County’s economy and requires increased investment. Throughout the United States, there exist significant gaps in access to affordable high-speed internet services. These inadequacies can be due to a complete lack of physical infrastructure or the infrastructure could be insufficient for certain household and business needs. There are also major disparities in terms of access, quality, and cost of services. This is true in Whatcom County, Washington. For more information on Whatcom County’s Broadband Program please visit the Port’s webpage.

Healthcare Infrastructure 

The economic development division of the Port is neither a healthcare provider nor a public health entity. Public health issues fall under the jurisdiction of Whatcom County Health Department. The Health Department maintains and updates a community health assessment on a regular basis. 

However, having a healthy population is key to having a resilient and sustainable economy. It is therefore important to highlight the current healthcare infrastructure found in Whatcom County. As development and stakeholder engagement of the CEDS started during the COVID-19 pandemic in summer 2020, inadequate healthcare infrastructure was and continues to be a top concern throughout Whatcom County.

Healthcare infrastructure and particularly the limited number of hospital beds and intensive-care unit beds available was a motivating factor in lockdowns and temporary business closures throughout the United States. Hospital beds occupied by COVID-19 patients was also one metric used throughout the pandemic to assess county-level progress with the virus. During the phased reopening process, related metrics were used to determine if counties could move into new phases of reopening (higher capacity limits, fewer restrictions on business and event activity) or not. Whatcom County currently has one hospital with 255 beds, of which 24 are ICU beds, for nearly a quarter million residents. 

About the Data

Infrastructure maps are based on data collected during Phase I of a county-wide infrastructure database along the I-5 Corridor. To learn more about the project and data sources please see the original report and appendices. Phase II will expand the geographical scope of the project beyond the I-5 Corridor.

Health care data comes from County Health Rankings, The Kaiser Health News, and Washington Department of Health.