County Transportation Metrics is a project of the Washington State Association of Counties (WSAC) and will provide a roadmap for setting transportation priorities.

Whatcom County

Whatcom County was established in 1854, by the Washington territorial government. The name Whatcom derives from a Nooksack word meaning "noisy water" and it was the name of a Nooksack chief. Bellingham is the largest city and county seat. Whatcom is one of the fastest growing counties in Washington state.

The county has the distinction of having beautiful marine vistas, lakes, rivers, and forested hills and mountains that rise toward majestic Mount Baker. These features were home to Native peoples for millennia; Europeans first encountered them in the 1700s. After the establishment of coal mines, a sawmill, and a military fort on Bellingham Bay in the 1850s, the county began to emerge as an important player in territorial economics and political life. Logging began, and the county emerged as an agricultural and lumber area. Canneries made the county world-renowned. In 1903, all the towns on Bellingham Bay came together under the name of Bellingham.

During the 1980s, Whatcom County began to grow into one of the most sought-out areas in the country, noted for recreational opportunities on land and water as well as colleges, city parks, light industries, and cultural events. Agriculture has been a steady influence on the northern parts of the county. Today, Whatcom County produces 65 percent of the red raspberries grown in the US.

Like the national economy, Whatcom County's largest job providing sector is private services. The county has some heavy industry at Cherry Point in the northwest corner of the county with crude oil refineries and an aluminum smelter. There is also some niche manufacturing and a large variety of other small businesses that add to the diversified economy.

The county's proximity to the Canadian border is also a strong influence. When the Canadian dollar is strong, Canadian shoppers seek bargains and real estate in Whatcom County.

Population (OFM Databook, 2011) 

Population (2011) 202,100
Population Change (2000 to 2010)      5.5%
Land Area (Sq. Mi.) 2,106.86
Density (Population/Sq. Mi.) 95.92


Bellingham 81,070
Blaine 4,705

Major Highways

  • Interstate 5
  • State Route 20
  • Alaska Marine Highway

County Roads (CRAB and OFM, 2011)

Total Center Lane Miles
Maintenance Expenditures
$ 11,042,676
Performance Expenditures
$ 4,568,364
Improvement Expenditures
$ 240,440

County Revenues  & Expenditures (OFM Databook, 2011)

Total Revenues
$ 165,114,185
Total Expenditures
$ 154,172,290
Transportation Expenditures
 $ 25,854,657

Performance Measures

Links & Sources

Washington State Association of Counties
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