Thurston County recently received national recognition for five projects it completed last year as part of its Fish Passage Enhancement Program which promotes anadromous fish migration through county streams, according to a county press release.

The county was awarded both a state chapter and national American Public Works Association (APWA) Project of the Year award for the work it completed in 2018, which included culvert replacement, barrier removals, installation of prefabricated bridges, and improved stream crossings.

The projects were chosen as the winners of the environment category for projects with a budget of $5 million or less. 

“I am exceedingly proud of what our public works staff have accomplished in such a short period of time with this program,” said Thurston County Commissioner John Hutchings, in a press release. “They have opened more than 7 miles of fish habitat that had been blocked for decades.”

The five projects, which cost a combined $4.5 million according to county documents, include fish passages across the county. Sites include 26th Avenue, Flumerfelt Road, Troy Drive, Waddell Creek Road and Hunter Point Road. 

Results from a recent U.S. Supreme Court decision stated that Washington state had a responsibility to remove barriers that block fish migration. Thurston County officials say they’re being proactive by spearheading the culvert replacement operations, which have been recognized as some of the most proactive in the state and nation.

Program coordinators have used a rating system to determine priority of the county’s roughly 350 problem culverts and barriers. In an email earlier this year to the NVN, senior civil engineer Steven Johnson said the program has highlighted nine projects to look into during the 2019/2020 budget cycle, with an expected six projects expected to be complete. 


County Awards Toboton Culvert Contract

Thurston County Board of Commissioners voted unanimously Tuesday to award the Toboton Creek Culvert Replacement project bid to BPCI Earthworks LLC for a total amount of $606,642.

“The removal of this partial barrier will enhance and partially restore salmon access to more than half-a-mile of Toboton Creek,” Johnson said. “This includes very large areas of high-quality wetland habitat, which would be great for salmon rearing.” 

Toboton Creek is a tributary of the Nisqually River. This project will replace the existing triple culvert at Peissner Road with an improved box culvert that will correct fish migration up the stream. 

Johnson said the box culvert will reconcentrate the stream’s flow more naturally and allow greater depths for anadromous fish. 

Contractors are expected to break ground around the end of June and construction is expected to wrap up in October. 

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