Water flows Thursday from an aging culvert that steers Peabody Creek into Port Angeles Harbor. (Keith Thorpe/Peninsula Daily News)

Water flows Thursday from an aging culvert that steers Peabody Creek into Port Angeles Harbor. (Keith Thorpe/Peninsula Daily News)

105-year-old Port Angeles culvert in need of repairs

City to seek funding for $3.5 million in upgrades

PORT ANGELES — A 105-year-old culvert under the heart of Port Angeles is in need of $3 million in repairs, the City Council heard this week.

The city will seek state funding to upgrade the 1,007-foot-long Peabody Creek culvert after a consultant completes a hydraulic analysis and preliminary design in 2020.

The City Council voted 6-0 Tuesday to award a not-to-exceed $149,942 professional services agreement with Parametrix Inc. to complete the hydraulic analysis and preliminary design.

High tide in Port Angeles Harbor backs up against the aging Peabody Creek outflow culvert at the foot of Lincoln Street on Thursday. (Keith Thorpe/Peninsula Daily News)

High tide in Port Angeles Harbor backs up against the aging Peabody Creek outflow culvert at the foot of Lincoln Street on Thursday. (Keith Thorpe/Peninsula Daily News)

The Peabody Creek culvert runs under the Texaco gas station parking lot at 210 E. First St. before making a 45-degree turn at South Lincoln Street.

The creek runs north under Lincoln Street through the downtown area and enters Port Angeles Harbor between City Pier and The Landing mall.

“This culvert has a high potential for structural failure,” City Engineer Jonathan Boehme told the City Council on Tuesday.

“It’s hard to even imagine what would happen if that culvert all of a sudden collapsed, so that’s why we really need to start thinking about how we are going to move forward.”

The city culvert is partially owned by the state Department of Transportation because it runs under a section of Lincoln Street that also serves as U.S. Highway 101.

Boehme displayed photos taken from inside the cracked 10-foot-wide, eight-foot tall concrete-reinforced pipe.

The brick-lined culvert was built during the downtown regrade — or Sluicing the Hogback — in 1914.

“You think about a 100-year lifespan of a culvert, that’s pretty good,” Boehme said.

Peabody Creek originally ran at an angle through downtown Port Angeles toward Valley Creek. It was re-routed under Lincoln Street as part of the downtown regrade.

City officials began regular inspections of the structurally-deficient culvert in 2005, Boehme said.

“That’s when we learned that the bottom of the culvert was beginning to erode out,” Boehme said.

“We had missing bricks. … If you were to step down in that water, you would sink down to your knees.”

Boehme said the “plot thickened” in 2012 when a 280-square-foot, eight-foot-deep sinkhole formed at South Lincoln and First streets.

A state Department of Transporation crew filled the sinkhole with controlled density fill, or CDF, Boehme said.

The city used ground-penetrating radar to find four other voids near the culvert in 2014.

This photo, provided by the city of Port Angeles, shows the construction of the culvert north at the intersection of Front and Lincoln streets in May 1914.

This photo, provided by the city of Port Angeles, shows the construction of the culvert north at the intersection of Front and Lincoln streets in May 1914.

Peabody Creek is on a state fish passage injunction list but is considered a low priority because of limited habitat upstream, Boehme said.

There are other fish-blocking culverts on Peabody Creek at Peabody Street, Fifth Street, Eighth Street and Park Avenue.

City planners are considering Ennis Creek as an alternative for fish passage projects. Ennis Creek has fewer fish-blocking culverts and more available habitat than Peabody Creek.

“There’s certainly a tremendous potential to try to mitigate some of our efforts on Peabody Creek by focusing on some restoration efforts on Ennis Creek,” Boehme said.

“So that’s an avenue we’ll be exploring as we go throughout this work here on the Peabody project.”

Rather than cutting through the middle of Lincoln Street to repair the Peabody Creek culvert, crews will likely use a shotcrete material to repair the pipe from the inside and fill the voids from the top with CDF.

Boehme said the project timeline depends on grant funding.

The city allocated $446,000 to the design phase of the Peabody Creek culvert in its 2020 capital facilities plan.

The city will seek grants to cover the estimated $3 million cost of the Peabody Creek culvert repair.

“The first impressions that were forming in my head was ‘Well, this is really just a Band-Aid,’ ” council member Mike French said after Boehme’s presentation.

“But it also seems like, pragmatically, there’s no cure for Peabody Creek at this point that is practical for us to pursue.”

Boehme said the five creeks that run through Port Angeles add complexity to development and the city’s transportation network.

“But it certainly also provides so much beauty for the city that we live in,” he said.

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Reporter Rob Ollikainen can be reached at 360-452-2345, ext. 56450, or at [email protected].

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