Environment Transportation

Fish passage project to temporarily shift traffic on Highway 16

Posted on August 10th, 2022 By:

Drivers will begin to see construction activity along Highway 16 between the eastbound and westbound Purdy exits as soon as next week. Contractors will reroute the roadway into the median for a Purdy Creek fish passage project.

Over the next three years, crews will remove fish-blocking 6-foot corrugated steel pipes under each direction of the highway. The culverts will be replaced with 206-foot-long bridges. The  culverts were installed when the Purdy bypass, which opened in November 1978, was built.

Also part of the project is removing a 6-by-6-foot concrete box culvert under the Highway 302 Spur in Purdy, where the creek dumps into Burley Lagoon. A 77-foot-long bridge will replace the culvert.

The total cost is estimated at $41.6 million, which includes repaving the spur, said Washington State Department of Transportation spokeswoman Cara Mitchell.

Sites of culvert replacement projects at Highway 16 and Highway 302 Spur.

Sites of culvert replacement projects at Highway 16 and Highway 302 Spur.

Getting fish moving through Purdy Creek

WSDOT says fish “cannot navigate” the old Highway 16 pipe culverts. The 302 Spur culvert is “challenging for fish to navigate.”

The Purdy Creek watershed includes about 6.5 miles of stream corridors, including two small unnamed tributaries. Those waterways will be opened to juvenile chinook, coho and chum salmon, along with adult and juvenile steelhead and coastal cutthroat trout, according to Washington State Department of Fish and Wildlife. The stream begins near Burley-Olalla Road in Kitsap County and flows south through a mostly rural residential area to the lagoon.

As early as Monday, Aug. 15, Washington Department of Transportation contractor Kraemer North America crews will begin work along Highway 16. Travelers will see orange cones and activity on the shoulders and in the median.

The coming weeks will see overnight single-lane closures while crews push eastbound (toward Tacoma) lanes toward the outside shoulder to create a larger work area in the median. Two 11-foot lanes and 2-foot shoulders will be maintained. There will be no speed limit reduction, Mitchell said.

Culvert taking Purdy Creek under the Highway 302 spur.

Culvert taking Purdy Creek under the Highway 302 spur.

Beginning in late September, truckers will haul in fill dirt to create a new roadway in the median for westbound (toward Bremerton) traffic while they replace the first culvert, said Mitchell. The speed limit will be reduced from 60 mph to 45 mph for about a mile where the new roadway curves around the culvert work.

That configuration will remain in place for about a year. Then the whole process will be reversed the following year while the pipe under the eastbound lanes is replaced.

More than 50,000 vehicles travel that stretch of Highway 16 daily.

Highway 302 Spur work waiting on temporary signal

In Purdy, a detour will be created around the Highway 302 culvert replacement via Purdy Lane, a little side road that runs parallel and a short distance to the east of the spur. Paving of Purdy Lane to withstand the increased traffic — the spur averages 12,000 vehicles per day — was expected to begin on Aug. 1.

However, the contractor has been delayed in acquiring a temporary signal to be placed at the intersection of 144th Street and Purdy Lane, so the start has been pushed off until an undetermined date this fall, Mitchell said. The detour will be in place for about a year.

The detour route for Purdy Creek work at the Highway 302 spur.

The detour route for Purdy Creek work at the Highway 302 spur.

Little Minter Creek project to close Highway 302 beginning Thursday

Of more immediate impact is another fish passage project at Little Minter Creek on the Key Peninsula. A minimum nine-day complete closure of Highway 302 will begin at 9 p.m. Thursday, Aug. 11. Construction crews will install two large culverts under the road to improve fish passage.

During the around-the-clock closure, signed detours will be in place for both passenger vehicles and oversized semi-trucks.

Passenger vehicles will follow a detour between 118th Avenue and 134th Avenue. Semi-trucks and oversized loads will follow a separate detour via Gorst, adding about 25 minutes of travel time. Travelers can view the detour routes on a YouTube video prepared by WSDOT.

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The detour passenger vehicles will take during the Highway 302 closure.

The detour passenger vehicles will take during the Highway 302 closure.

Once the culverts are installed and the roadway reopens at 5 a.m. on Saturday, Aug. 20, drivers can expect to see alternating one-way traffic resume until the project is complete. Key Peninsula travelers are encouraged to sign up for email updates.

All of the culvert replacement projects are the result of a 2013 lawsuit. A court agreed with 21 Northwest Washington tribes that the state has a treaty-based duty to preserve fish runs. The verdict requires the state to significantly increase its effort to remove state-owned culverts that block habitat for salmon and steelhead by 2030.