Saving a Road and a Salmon Run in Just One Day

Waterfront Hotel Culvert Repair salmon running
Look closely to see salmon running in the stream.

Much was at risk for the Skokomish Indian Tribe where Diddle Creek meets Hood Canal.

Waterfront Hotel Culvert Repair culvert collapsingA hole was developing in the roadway, collapsing on an existing culvert used by salmon to reach their spawning grounds. The road also provided access to one of the Tribe’s business enterprises, the Waterfront at Potlatch, a collection of cabins, RV sites and an 8-unit hotel.

The culvert wasn’t long enough and was causing erosion under the roadway. The problem was discovered in fall, but waiting until summer to repair the rapidly expanding hole risked washing out the roadway, eroding the streambed, and losing salmon eggs from the November chum run. It was imperative the culvert be repaired in the winter. A tricky prospect, as it required the stream flow be diverted to allow work in the stream base below the road.

SCJ Project Manager, Lisa Palazzi said, “I was excited to help organize and permit this project after seeing the salmon teeming in the stream during my first site visit in November. I understood that the culvert repair had to be completed before winter storms further eroded and expanded the hole in the road surface — which was becoming increasingly hazardous for hotel clients. The risk of a washout included erosion in the stream and loss of the chum run redds.”

Waterfront Hotel Culvert Repair in progressLisa helped find a suitable contractor and worked with them to develop an effective work plan.

What resulted was a one-day solution spearheaded by SCJ’s team of engineers and environmental scientists. It minimized impacts to the stream and hotel operations.

SCJ and the contractor, Active Construction Incorporated, worked to install a sandbag dam just upstream from the work zone.  An upstream screen was installed to capture and hold any early hatchlings. Pumps diverted the water from behind the dam to across the road, bypassing the culvert, and the downstream end of the culvert was plugged to eliminate tidal impacts in the work zone. These combined actions ensured minimal damage to the stream base and salmon beds during construction.

Waterfront Hotel Culvert Repair repaired culvertThe client was pleased with the way Lisa communicated with them throughout the project. “You did an excellent job in preparing us and the contractor for a complicated, timing intense, multiple government bureaucracy project. I am legitimately impressed.”

Within just 24 hours, the roadway surface was excavated to expose the short culvert, an extension was connected, and the roadway reconstructed.  Fish-mix gravels, sized to match the instream gravels, were replaced in the streambed around the new culvert extension. The temporary sandbag dams were removed, and water flow resumed in the restored streambed with no visible suspended sediment impacts.

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