WICKERSHAM – Next week, construction to open up fish habitat upstream of State Route 9 roughly one mile north of the Whatcom-Skagit county line will mean two weeks of single-lane closures and one weekend closure of the highway. Besides the good news of enhancing fish passage, commuters and travelers should find the culvert installation project quick and easy.
To prepare for the culvert installation, contractor crews working for the Washington State Department of Transportation will close one lane of SR 9 Monday morning, July 15, through Friday, July 19. Flaggers will direct traffic through the closure.
At 8 p.m. on Friday, July 19, crews will close the highway between Royer Street and NP Road to remove and replace the existing culvert. After repaving one lane, crews will reopen the highway by 5 a.m. Monday, July 22.
During the weekend highway closure, signs will direct drivers at various locations along SR 9 – from SR 542 at Nugent’s Corner to Sedro-Woolley – to use alternate routes.
With another week of flagger-controlled lane closures following the weekend closure, road crews should wrap up most of the work, and the project is expected to be complete by the end of July. The weekday lane closures should cause minimal delays for drivers along this stretch of SR 9.
WSDOT awarded the $351,486 contract to contractor Stremler Gravel Inc. of Lynden. The new culvert will provide a wider, deeper stream passage for fish under SR 9, allowing crews to simulate a natural stream bed through the culvert.
“At this point, the water in the culvert is too swift and shallow for some fish to make it through,” said WSDOT environmental manager Alan Soicher. “All the fish that make it to the new culvert will now be able to reach more than a mile of habitat upstream of the highway.”
The project will open up spawning grounds to more coho salmon and cutthroat trout that use NP Creek, a tributary to the Samish River. The project will also improve habitat access for other fish species in the Samish River, including steelhead trout, bull trout, and chum salmon.
Travelers should check the Construction Update Report for more information about the closures.