Jefferson commissioners approve $100,000 for culvert project

PORT TOWNSEND — The Jefferson County Board of Commissioners approved the spending of $100,550 to hire an engineering consultant to design a fish-friendly culvert on Thorndyke Road near Hood Canal.

The commissioners approved the spending as part of their consent agenda at their weekly meeting Monday morning.

The project will replace a culvert along Thorndyke Road at milepost 4.71 with a fish-passable structure, because the current culvert acts as a barrier for salmon traveling through Thorndyke Creek and is the only fish barrier in the Thorndyke Creek watershed, said Eric Kuzma, Jefferson County assistant Public Works manager.

The overall design costs $298,863. The project already received $198,313 from the Fish Barrier Removal Board in the form of a design grant.

Kuzma predicted that they will be able to apply for the construction funds in about a year, and that the project could be built in 2022.

The length of time the area will be under construction can vary, Kuzma said.

“It depends on the company that builds it,” Kuzma said. “If it’s a small company with three to five people, it could take up to six months. If it’s a bigger company they can get it done in a few months.”

Public Works received the grant funding in July.

KPFF Consulting Engineers is the company that will be designing the new culvert, commission documents said.

Having an in-depth designing process makes it easier for Public Works to come up with a realistic budget and clear plan to present to the commissions and to receive potential funding they will need, Kuzma said.

Thorndyke Creek has marked populations of coho and chum salmon, steelhead, and cutthroat and resident trout, Kuzma said.

The current culvert is considered a fish barrier due to the velocity of the water making it extremely difficult to swim through due to high pressure, and the current barrier has a 33 percent state Department of Fish and Wildlife passability rating, Kuzma said.

The project is part of the 2019-24 Six-Year Transportation Improvement Plan that was presented to the commissioners in October 2018 and approved in November 2018.

It is unknown at this point how much the overall construction of the new culvert will cost, as is what style of culvert will be used.

“Part of the design is to determine what the appropriate replacement structure is,” Kuzma said. “If we were to replace it with what they call a box culvert, which is essentially a short-span concrete bridge, the cost associated with that would be one thing.

“If we were to replace it with a longer, traditional type bridge, the cost would be something more. So part of the design process is to figure out what the most appropriate replacement is given the characteristics of that stream,” he continued.

“I don’t know what the cost would be because I don’t know what the solution is yet.”

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Jefferson County reporter Zach Jablonski can be reached at 360-385-2335, ext. 5 or at [email protected].

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