Whatcom County Public Works officials are seeking bids for a project slated to improve a fish passage running underneath a road in Birch Bay.
The project will replace a concrete fish culvert underneath Bay Road between Valley View Road and Hickory Ridge Lane. The current 12-inch-wide culvert blocks certain species of salmon that make their way up California Creek to spawn, county engineering manager Chris Brueske said.
“[There’s] close to a mile of spawning habitat above the culvert,” Brueske said.
County public works was awarded $450,000 in federal money to replace the current 12-inch culvert with a 30-inch passage. Total project cost is expected to be $550,000, and the county will pay the remaining $100,000.
Construction of the culvert will involve tearing up and replacing about 100 feet of road and digging a 30-foot deep hole, both of which will necessitate a complete closure of Bay Road for most of August. Local traffic will be diverted south to Grandview Road via Valley View.
“It’s quite a deep culvert [and will be] nearly 30 feet under the road,” Brueske said. “It’s such a deep hole there’s no way to maintain traffic through there [during construction].”
Replacing this culvert has been a high priority project for the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife and the Nooksack Salmon Enhancement Association for the past few years. Whatcom County Public Works was awarded the federal grant for the project in 2010, and county attorneys have spent the past two years acquiring the property easements necessary for the project.
“Those took quite a bit of time and attorneys to get everything ironed out,” Brueske said.
Bids for the project will be opened on May 29. Brueske expects construction to begin this August.