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Fish culvert work to shut down road to Granite Falls for 13 days

The Washington State Department of Transportation continues to replace hundreds of culverts. (WSDOT)

Granite Falls drivers have had their appetizer. Now it’s time for the main course, a 13-day closure of their primary route in and out of town.

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Highway 92 drivers have survived two weekend closures at Machias Road as the state replaces the fish culvert on Little Pilchuck Creek. This time, it’s 13 straight days of closures starting Friday.

“It is a complete closure of that intersection,” Frances Fedoriska with the Washington State Department of Transportation said. “The detour routes that were in place for these last two weekends are the same detours that everyone has to take during the 13-day closure.”

Cars can use the quick detour, which uses the nearest streets. It adds about a mile. Truck drivers are being asked to use the longer detour route, which takes them to Highway 9 and 84th Street Northeast.

During the weekend closures, workers injected jet grout into the ground to stabilize the area and prep for rerouting the Little Pilchuck Creek.

“We’ve been able to stabilize the hillside that’s going to hold up this massive 60-foot buried bridge, which is quite a bit heavier than the tiny, little 12-by-6 foot culvert that was there previously,” Fedoriska said.

This is not just some cut-and-cover project. Crews are taking out the road, digging out the dirt down to stream level, and then putting a bridge over the top.

“There are more than 20 pieces of this bridge,” Fedoriska said. “They’re going to be delivered to the site, and we’re going to assemble it in the creek bed, pave on top of it, and re-open the road.”

The project is all part of the federal court mandate that requires the state to restore natural fish habitat that is blocked by roads or bridges.

“The fish will have an easier time passing through it and it will open up 30 miles of habitat that was incredibly difficult for migrating species to get to,” Fedoriska said.

If everything goes according to plan, State Route 92 will re-open July 19. There will be some smaller closures about a month later as the contractor re-stripes the road and adds landscaping.

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