Skip Top Navigation

I-5 - Fisher Creek - Fish Passage

Status

June 2017

  • Northbound I-5 traffic has been moved back onto the new bridge. The right two lanes are open. The left lane remains closed for bypass deconstruction.
  • The speed limit is still 60 mph through this work zone.
  • Crews will finish work on the fish passage through Fisher Creek later this summer.

Why is WSDOT building bridges for I-5 over Fisher Creek?
Fisher Creek, located about five miles south of Mount Vernon in Skagit County, passes under I-5 in an 8-foot diameter culvert. The culvert is rusting out and some of the soil west of the southbound paved shoulder is washing away. It also creates a barrier to fish passage because the water moves too fast for fish at high water times, and is too shallow during low water times. In 2013, the U.S. District Court for Western Washington ruled that the state must remove culverts that block fish passage under state roads. Fisher Creek is one of more than 1,000 in this state subject to this ruling. Removing the culvert, building twin 110-foot-long bridges and reconstructing the creek bed to a more natural state will allow for better fish passage.

Why not put in a new culvert? The normal width of the creek at peak flow is about 30 feet, which is too wide to fit into a standard culvert.

What are the challenges to building bridges for I-5 over Fisher Creek?

  • Keeping traffic moving: I-5 will remain open in both directions during bridge construction. WSDOT contractor crews will started the project by building two bypass lanes in the I-5 median. Southbound traffic shifted onto these lanes during construction of the southbound bridge. Now northbound traffic has been shifted to the bypass to complete the northbound bridge, while southbound traffic was moved onto the new bridge in that direction. Once the northbound bridge is complete, northbound traffic will return to the regular lanes and the bypass will be removed.
  • Narrowing the interstate from three to two lanes: At Fisher Creek, I-5 has three lanes in each direction that are separated by a wide median. Traffic in one direction at a time will be narrowed from three lanes to two and the speed limit will be reduced from 70 to 60 mph approaching the bypass lanes in the I-5 median. Two lanes are sufficient for the 59,000 average daily trips that use this section of I-5.
  • Working near wetlands: Contractor crews will need to be careful working near and above the creek to keep any construction material and sediment out of the creek and wetlands.


What should drivers expect?

  • Lane reductions: Drivers should be prepared for lane reductions to start well before the construction zones. I-5 will narrow from three lanes to two, then expand back to three once motorists pass the work zone.
  • Reduced speeds: During construction, the speed limit through the work zone will be reduced from 70 to 60 mph.
  • Much heavier congestion than usual during the 2017 Skagit Valley Tulip Festival: Northbound I-5 will be reduced to two lanes near Fisher Creek in the first half of 2017. This includes during the Skagit Valley Tulip Festival in April. Tulip traffic often is heavy; drivers should be prepared for even heavier congestion on I-5. Drivers may want to use alternate routes during the 2017 festival.

How will the work be performed?
While southbound traffic was diverted on to the bypass lanes, crews removed a section of all three southbound lanes and shoulders of I-5, removed some of the underlying fill, and built a new bridge. Traffic was then returned to the regular lanes. Crews then diverted northbound traffic onto the two median bypass lanes and are following the same steps to build the northbound bridge. Once both bridges are complete, the crews will remove the bypass lanes, remove the remaining fill and existing culvert and build a more natural creek bed for Fisher Creek. They’ll also plant the new creek banks with native vegetation.

The End Result
Building two bridges to replace the Fisher Creek culvert will help restore the creek to a natural state, open up more than 17 miles of fish habitat for salmon and steelhead, and comply with the U.S. District Court ruling.

Project Benefits

  • This project will improve fish passage and open up additional salmon and steelhead habitat.
  • The work will help WSDOT comply with the U.S. District Court ruling regarding fish passage.

What is the project timeline?
Winter 2016: Advertise project for competitive bidding.
Spring 2016: Begin construction of the bypass lanes in I-5 median.
Summer 2016: Temporarily diverted southbound I-5 to bypass lanes.
Late fall 2016: Returned traffic to southbound I-5 regular lanes.
Winter/spring 2017: Temporarily diverted northbound I-5 to bypass lanes
Summer 2017: Return traffic to northbound I-5 regular lanes.
Fall 2017: Remove bypass lanes, restore Fisher Creek bed.

Financial Information

Financial Data for PIN 100560D
Funding Source Amount ($ in thousands)
2003 Gas Tax (Nickel Funding) $0
2005 Gas Tax (TPA) $0
Pre-Existing Funds (PEF) $1,135
CWA $7,650
Total $8,785

Project signage will reflect the cost of construction engineering, project bid award and sales tax.

How can I get more information?
Contact:
Marqise Allen
WSDOT communications
Phone: 206-440-4699
Email: allenmq@wsdot.wa.gov

Shane Spahr
WSDOT Project Engineer
Phone: 360-757-5856
Email: spahrs@wsdot.wa.gov

back to top