CHOKEPOINTS

Returning Hylebos Creek to its natural state through Fife

Jun 20, 2023, 5:00 AM | Updated: 9:36 am

Hylebos Creek Fife...

This is a tributary of Hylebos Creek which joins the Hylebos Waterway which runs into Commencement Bay in Tacoma. (File Photo)

(File Photo)

While building two new bridges over Interstate 5 and two miles of a new freeway are the headlining events, it’s what you don’t see from the Gateway Project in Fife — and the restoration of the Hylebos Creek — that will also have a huge impact.

The Gateway Project will transform Pierce County. With State Route 167 soon to extend to Puyallup and I-5 in Fife. Plus, State Route 509 will be extended from I-5 all the way to the Port of Tacoma.

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According to project engineer Tom Slimak, this will get trucks off the neighborhood streets and onto new freeways.

“If you’ve been in the Fife area, they’re currently fighting through the local streets, so we want to give an opportunity for freight mobility to get them in and out of the port more efficiently,” Slimak said.

A huge part of this project is the restoration of Hylebos Creek and all the greenspace you see around I-5.

“One of the first things we want to do is relocate the Hylebos stream into a more natural habitat,” Slimak said.

The creek was diverted to make room for I-5. This work will help restore it. The goal is to return native fish and birds to the area.

“We’re doing about 150 acres of wetland and stream enhancement … So miles of stream restoration is what you’re going to see out on I-5,” Slimak said. “It’s a big wetland restoration nature area that is going to take shape.”

And this restoration work isn’t just for the environment. It has a dual purpose. It should eliminate the flooding that plagues I-5 during heavy rains.

“The work that we’re doing with this Hylebos restoration program will actually lower the floodplain elevation, and we’re going to put the flooding where we want it to go, which is in these natural areas versus flooding our roadway.”

So that’s a huge positive for drivers.

The current schedule has this restoration and SR 509 expansion work to be completed in 2026. The SR 167 extension should be complete by 2029.

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Returning Hylebos Creek to its natural state through Fife