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Highway 92 chokepoint, fish passage
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Granite Falls drivers to pay with their time for fish restoration

Granite Falls drivers are going to lose their primary route to Highway 9 several times this summer to make sure that migrating fish have better access to spawning grounds.

Washington is under a federal court order to restore fish habitat that is blocked by roads, and for the last few years the state has been replacing blocked or impassable culverts to be in compliance. The state has replaced more than 300 of these culverts. It’s estimated this federal ruling will cost the state more than $2 billion by 2030.

The latest culvert to be replaced is blocking the Little Pilchuck Creek, between Lake Stevens and Granite Falls, under SR 92.

The closure is right at the intersection of SR 92 and Machias Road. Frances Fedoriska with the Washington State Department of Transportation said crews will need to close the road for two weekends and then for a 13-day stretch later this summer. The first weekend closure starts Friday, June 8.

“They (drivers) won’t be able to take 92 to get from Lake Stevens to Granite Falls and vice versa,” Fedoriska said.  “We do have some relatively small detour routes.”

There are two detour routes; one for cars and one for trucks.

“We’re sending the larger haulers and commercial trucks to SR 9 and 84th Street because we don’t want 16-wheelers heading through (the neighborhoods),” Fedoriska said.  “Small cars and light trucks will be able to take 44th and 139th.”

This is a complicated culvert replacement that includes moving dirt and re-routing Little Pilchuck Creek. That’s why it is going to take so long to complete.

“The first two weekend closures are just to stabilize the hillside to make sure everything is in ready-form for all the work that we’re going to be doing,” Fedeoriska said.  “We’re disrupting a lot of real estate to make this new culvert happen.”

The current 6-foot by 12-foot culvert will be replaced with 60-foot span over a newly built creek bed. It should reduce the water level and make it easier for juvenile fish to get through.

“We’re going to have to re-direct the creek,” she said.  “It’s going to be wider.  It’s going to flow more slowly.  It’s going to really help the environmental issues.  Then we’re going to dam up the existing culvert.  We’re going to put a nice, new structure over the wider creek bed and then put the road back on top of it.”

The state said this new culvert will give fish access to about 30 miles of habitat.

The second weekend closure will be June 15-17.

The date for the final 13-day closure hasn’t been finalized, but it will be done after July 1 and before the start of the school year. The project costs $6 million.

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