Tag Archives: culvert

Detour signs prepare for weeklong Highway 302 closure

The in basket: On a roundtrip to Shelton’s Oyster Fest last weekend I passed a series of road signs on Highway 3 between Gorst and Allyn.

The signs were orange but covered with black plastic. The plastic on two or three didn’t cover the entire sign and I could see the top word was “Detour.” The locations didn’t coincide with the recent paving of parts of Highway 3 or the ongoing work in Belfair.

I asked what’s being planned.

The out basket: Claudia Bingham Baker replied that work will begin this weekend on a culvert project that will close Highway 302, which runs between Purdy and Allyn. She referred me to a news release I hadn’t seen before.

“Contractor crews working for the Washington State Department of Transportation will close a section of State Route 302 in October to replace two failed culverts and reinforce the roadway,” it said.

“A 170-foot section of SR 302 is slowly settling due to erosion, and damaging the roadway. Replacing the culverts will help prevent stormwater runoff from damaging roadway material, which makes up the base the highway.

“Crews will also install specialized lightweight concrete to help shore up the roadway.

“These repairs tackle two problems at once, and will keep the road smooth longer while reducing the costs we’re seeing from having to repave several times a year,” said Project Engineer Michele Britton.

Both directions of  302 will be closed at milepost 4.5 near Victor starting at 6 a.m., Saturday, it said. All lanes will reopen by 9 a.m. on Saturday, Oct 15.

Local access will be allowed to, but not through, the work zone.

Signed detour routes will be in place allowing drivers to bypass the closure by using signed State Route 3 and State Route 16, it said.

This work is weather dependent, it said, noting that that stretch of  302 carries approximately 3,000 vehicles per day.

Rights onto Tremont during detour analyzed

The in basket: It was irritating during the closure of Highway 166 for the Gorst culvert replacements to pull up to the red light on Port Orchard Boulevard, the designated detour, at Tremont Street and watch timid drivers wait to turn right onto Tremont’s inside lane  despite the presence of a perfectly good outside lane that would hold a few of them and allow those farther back in the line on the boulevard to pull forward.

Often the traffic was so heavy that even when the light turned red on Tremont and green on the boulevard, the backup from the next light ahead on Tremont, at Pottery, left no room for boulevard traffic to get into the through lane on Tremont. Once again, the outside lane, which can hold four or five vehicles and from which cars can merge into the inside lane when Tremont traffic began moving again, went largely unused.

I asked Port Orchard police whether there is anything illegal about using that outside lane, which ends a couple of hundred feet from the boulevard, as a merge or acceleration lane.

While I was at it, I asked if there is anything illegal about using deceleration lanes, such as those in front of Fred Myer on Sedgwick Road, to accelerate into eastbound Sedgwick traffic. There are right turn arrows on the pavement, but they don’t say “only.”

The out basket: Commander Dale Schuster of PO police says that not only is use of the outside lane on Tremont legal, as a matter of law, it’s required.

“Yes, the detour route via Port Orchard Boulevard was a mess during the culvert construction,” he said. “Thank God that part is over.

“Technically, when you turn right onto westbound Tremont Street from Port Orchard Boulevard you need to enter as far right towards the curb as possible which would obviously mean the closest lane. (RCW 46.61.290). In this case, it would be the acceleration lane you are referring to.

“You would then signal left and merge into the main lane of travel. Of course, you are relying on the courtesy of other drivers to let you in during heavy traffic. So, in short, it is perfectly legal to turn right in the acceleration lane then merge into traffic, or wait in the lane for an opening.

“Regarding your question on Sedgwick Road at Fred Meyer…I see no reason why someone exiting the Fred Meyer lot could not use that lane as an acceleration lane to merge into eastbound Sedgwick Road. Since there is no “island” there, the motorist would need to make sure he/she yields the right of way to someone in the deceleration lane already eastbound on Sedgwick Road. I am willing to bet most motorists exiting Fred Meyer are already using it as an acceleration lane.”

NK culvert replacements on tighter schedule than SK’s

The in basket: Bob Corbin of South Kitsap wonders about the pace of work on replacing the culverts that allow Anderson Creek to pass beneath highways 16 and 166 in Gorst.

Crews seem to be working only regular weekday hours, he said. Given the traffic disruptions, he would have expected the work to continue into the evening and weekends.

The out basket: Claudia Bingham-Baker, spokeswoman for the Olympic Region of state highways, says the contract for the culvert replacement states only the number of work days allowed to complete the work, with interim deadlines for each of the three culverts associated with the road closures. It  leaves it up to the winning bidder how to schedule it.

In a separate reply to a North Kitsap resident about similar work to replace culverts in the Kingston area this summer, she wrote, in part, “Work (there) will be going on day and night, and people who live nearby should expect to hear night construction noise. We apologize in advance for that disruption, but we wanted to minimize the time the highway would be closed by tightening the construction schedule as much as possible.”

I asked why the tighter construction schedule near Kingston and not near Gorst.

Claudia replied, “When WSDOT designs a project and includes a construction timeframe, we try to balance several issues, including available resources, inconvenience to the public, project costs, quality control, permit requirements, etc. Faster is not always better, as there can be a point of diminishing returns when too many people and too much equipment get in the way of each other.”

“We could force contractors to work around the clock by shortening roadway closure times, but that kind of work schedule greatly increases project costs both for contractors and state staff overseeing the work. Those increased costs get transferred to higher contract bids and more expensive projects.

“This particular project also has the added complication of in-water work restrictions that limit when the contractor can be working in the stream. We looked at all these factors and developed the contract with the conditions that we believe reflected the best approach.”

I saw work going on at the Gorst project in the evening Friday and on Saturday, July 22 and 23, so the contractor seems to have picked up the pace, for whatever reason. And I thought the replacement of the first two of the three Anderson Creek culverts went quite quickly. Still, Claudia says the entire Gorst project is expected to extend into November.

She didn’t say so, but I’d guess the close proximity of the Kingston ferry run, one of the state ferries’ busiest, had a lot to do with the greater pressure for haste there. At least that’s the reason the project was limited to five weekdays for the first of the three culverts there, the one at Grover’s Creek, to avoid the heavy weekend ferry traffic.

Reader sees no creek in new Anderson Creek culvert

The in basket: Larry Mann writes, “In a dozen trips to look at the Gorst salmon project, I see not one drop of water flowing anywhere near the elaborate concrete culvert they are installing.

“How can there be a salmon creek there if there is no water flowing there? My back property line is a salmon creek and it has 12-18 of water in it all summer and 18 to 36 in it in the winter time?

“Absent flowing water at the construction sight ,what I see in Gorst is a very high dollar waste of taxpayer dollars supposedly to protect a fish that has survived 4,000 years before humans came on the scene to be their savior.

“How do you explain the fish dilemma, the lack of water on the project, and lastly are the salmon dying in the bay as we speak because there is no culvert or more importantly no water in this alleged high profile salmon creek?”

The out basket: It wasn’t easy, but I found a place to park on the shoulder of the newly reopened Highway 166 and I walked to where I could see the remaining but soon-to-be-removed culvert through which the creek passes under the eastbound lanes of Highway 16.

There was a steady flow of water (I couldn’t tell the depth) exiting the pipe, evidence that Anderson Creek does exist. I couldn’t see across to where the new culvert under Highway 166 has been built, but clearly the creek still is reaching Sinclair Inlet somehow.

Claudia Bingham-Baker, spokeswoman for the Olympic Region of state highways, said this about Larry’s observation: “You are right that water is not currently flowing in the new culvert being installed at SR 166. Our fish culvert projects are built in one of two ways: 1) installing a new culvert in dry land and realigning the stream into the culvert after it’s built; and 2) using cofferdams to restrict water flow in the streams while adjacent culvert construction occurs.  In the SR 16/SR 166 project, we are using both methods to replace the three culverts.”  Method 1 was used in the completed culvert.

“As regards spending money to improve access to fish habitat,” she added, “all I can say is that we are following the law and correcting environmental deficiencies introduced by our forefathers who unknowingly built inadequate culverts. The emphasis on environmental stewardship has changed over the years as people have gained an understanding of how manmade structures and activities affect wildlife.”




Gorst culvert work explained

The in basket: The impending work to replace the culverts that run beneath highways 16 and 166 in Gorst to allow Anderson Creek to flow better seems likely to be a traffic headache perhaps less than what has been happening in Seattle and Snohomish County, but significant.

I wondered exactly where the creek passes beneath the highways, knowing that the state had to unplug a culvert a few years back just on the Port Orchard side of the turnaround for those wanting to go back to Gorst. And, of course, I wondered how the state hopes to get that many cars through a work zone that will, of necessity, involve digging up the pavement.

The out basket: My recollection of the culvert east of the turnaround just clouded the issue, as the creek is west of there, on the other side of the turnaround. I notice there are even signs on the shoulder saying “Anderson Creek.”

Claudia Bingham-Baker, spokeswoman for the Olympic Region of state highways, says, “In this project, crews will replace culverts that run under SR 16, SR 166 and Anderson Hill Road near Gorst. The existing culverts, which are each about 5 feet in diameter, will be replaced with three 3-sided 18-foot-wide concrete box culverts.


“The work will take place between June and October, and the contractor is proposing to do the work in three stages.  Each stage will have a concurrent detour route.


“We expect the contractor to first tackle the culvert that runs under SR 166,” she said. “That work will require a several-week total closure of SR 166. We will detour traffic onto Tremont Street and Port Orchard Boulevard.  Local traffic will still be able to use SR 166, but only to the physical closure point.” That’s the same detour used whenever a slide closed 166 in the past.


“We think the next culvert will be one that runs under westbound SR 16,” she said. “During that work, we’ll detour westbound SR 16 traffic into the highway median with a reduced speed limit (of 35 mph) and we’ll keep the westbound direction of the SR 166 detour in place.


“We expect the last culvert to be replaced is the one that runs under eastbound SR 16 and Anderson Hill Road.  That culvert will require eastbound SR 16 to use the highway median, again at a reduced speed limit (of 35 mph) and a closure of Anderson Hill Road.


“Specific dates for all this work and the roadway closures will be forthcoming as the contractor gets mobilized on site” she said “Initial detour maps and other information about the project can be found on our project web site:  http://www.wsdot.wa.gov/projects/sr16/andersoncreekfishbarriers/

That Web site says work will begin in mid-July and says, “All in-stream work will occur in late summer through Oct. 15 to meet environmental requirements and accommodate fish windows.

“In 2013, a federal court injunction required the state to significantly increase the state’s efforts in removing state-owned culverts that block habitat for salmon and steelhead,” the site says.

It’s a $9.5 million project.

“Note the order of work and schedule are still preliminary and subject to change,” Claudia said.


New Orseth Road bridge gets tongue-in-cheek criticism

The in basket: Richard Yerk of Suquamish called to say those who are aware of the new bridge Kitsap County built on Orseth Road this year have taken to calling it the Orseth Narrows Bridge, due to its size and complexity. They are non-plussed by what they understand is the $1.3 million cost of a bridge serving the dead-end Orseth Road, which intersects Miller Bay Road near Indianola, can’t be much more than a quarter-mile long and has little development aside from the business at the end where Richard gets his landscaping supplies.

The out basket: l went to look at the new bridge, and can’t say it’s all that excessive. Sheet pile walls that support the bank of the marshy area beneath were the mostIMG_2524 September 29, 2015 unusual elements I saw.

What struck me odd was the nature of that water. I assumed the work was one of the salmon-enhancement projects that increasingly use up the state and county’s road-building money. But rather than a stream, the water looked more like a marsh. There seemed to be no movement of the water which shows no obvious inlet or outlet and is surrounded by wetland growth.

Tina Nelson, senior program manager for Kitsap County Public Works, says it is indeed part of a stream, Grover’s Creek, which is more obviously a stream elsewhere along its course. And the bridge cost $650,000, of which $450,000 went into the actual construction, not $1.3 million, she said.

“Orseth Road is a county road classified as ‘Rural Local Access,’ she continued. “As such, it is incumbent on the county to maintain this roadway even though it provides access for only a limited number of properties.

“As part of Kitsap County’s routine maintenance operations, the condition of existing culverts is periodically inspected to determine if improvements/replacement are warranted. A number of years ago, during a routine inspection, the six-foot diameter, corrugated metal culvert under Orseth Road showed heavy corrosion throughout the pipe.

“To preclude any potential roadway damage (or complete failure) a project to replace the culvert was placed on the county’s 2008 Transportation Improvement Plan.

“During the preliminary engineering phase for this culvert replacement project, various permitting agencies were contacted to determine the regulatory requirements for this environmentally sensitive site.  (It) is mapped as having the potential for endangered fish presence and critical fish habitat, therefore fisheries design requirements for a replacement structure would need to be met. The regulatory agencies indicated that an 18-foot wide opening would be required to pass Grover’s Creek to the south.

“Because of this large opening requirement, the idea of retrofitting the existing culvert with a liner or replacing the pipe in kind were not viable solutions.

“Various larger culvert types and bridges were then analyzed and evaluated to determine the best replacement solution.  From these alternatives, it was determined that a pile supported, precast, short span bridge would be the best and most economical replacement structure.

“With construction of the short span bridge now completed,  the roadway is preserved and fish passage is greatly improved at a much lower cost than was indicated to you,” she said.

Temporary Highway 3 repair said to have made things worse

The in basket: Lee Hanson and John Pearson both say the temporary repair of the depression in the outside lane of southbound Highway 3 just north of the Kitsap Way interchange made it worse, not better.

Duke Stryker, head of state highway maintenance crews here, said in October that a culvert under the highway there was damaged in last November’s heavy rainstorm and that permanent repair would have to wait until next year. But they’d due a temporary repair in the meantime, he said.

The out basket: I didn’t drive over the depression before the temporary work was done, but have now. I can’t say it’s much of a disruption, at least not in my 2013 Malibu.

Claudia Bingham-Baker of the Olympic Region state highway information office, says, “Our maintenance crews are keeping an eye on SR 3 at the location your readers mentioned. We will re-patch the area when we see more settling.”

Bump in Highway 3’s outside lane to be tended to

The in basket: Pat Fuhrer of the Silverdale engineering consultants MAP Ltd. e-mailed to ask ,”Have you driven southbound  SR 3 in front of the Bayview apartments since the state closed the lane Sept. 20 & 21 to repair the culvert trench recently?  It’s worse now then it was before!   Do you know if another repair is planned soon, and might they use a lean concrete backfill so it doesn’t settle again?”

The out basket: They are aware of the problem, just north of the Kitsap Way interchange in Bremerton, and will be fixing it temporarily soon and permanently next year, says Duke Stryker, head of maintenance for state highways locally.

An 18-inch-wide culvert that runs under the highway was damaged in last November’s heavy rains, he said. They had to dig down 14 feet to repair the damaged section, and found that the entire culvert was in bad shape.

So they contracted to have a 16-inch-wide liner inserted through it’s entire length last month, which required another 14-foot trench tin which they had to “wrestle the liner through there, after which it was backfilled and repaved,” he said.

But the compaction of the finished product didn’t hold up, leaving a depression.

“We’ve had some settlement, similar to what we had before,” Duke said. “We’ll put some cold mix in there and keep and eye on it, and put it on our paving schedule next year.”

Highway 106 project on South Shore will replace culvert

The in basket: Cynthia Collier writes, “I drive State Route 106 every day to/from Union for work. Can you tell me what the road construction project is that’s taking place near the Twanoh Falls private beach area?

“Looks pretty extensive,” she said, “has the speed limit reduced to 25 mph, and has the road reduced to one lane, stopping traffic just about every morning. We’re all wondering what’s going on and how long it’s anticipated to last.”

The out basket: It’s another in the series of culvert replacements the state (and the counties) are doing to remove fish passage obstacles. It will continue through October and is, indeed, expensive, costing $6.3 million dollars.

According to the project Web site, http://www.wsdot.wa.gov/Projects/SR106/TwanohFallsImprovements/, “As part of an agreement with Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife, WSDOT is moving away from the repetitive repair of roadways that require recent, frequent and chronic maintenance repairs. Instead, WSDOT concentrates on long-term solutions that will optimize the improvements for fish and fish habitat, while also addressing transportation needs.
“The highway crossing has had a long standing problem of sediment accumulation,” it said, “requiring frequent excavation by maintenance crews to maintain creek flow and prevent flooding of the highway and adjacent properties. The sedimentation also poses fish passage problems.
“The culvert currently in place under SR 106 is too small. Replacing it with a larger one will improve creek flow, allow for fish passage and reduce sediment buildup. This will save money on frequent maintenance costs.
Since 1991, WSDOT has completed 269 fish barrier removal projects opening up over 904 miles of potential upstream habitat for fish,” the Web site said.

Salmon enhancement’s role in Kitsap County road projects

The in basket: In reviewing the current six-year road plan for Kitsap County, called the TIP and projecting out to 2017, I was struck by the large number of culvert replacement jobs on it. They almost outnumber other kinds of work.

I asked county public works officials if they’d argue with the notion that salmon enhancement has become as much a priority as moving vehicles in planning their road projects.

The out basket: County Engineer Jon Brand said, yes, he ‘d argue with that.

“I would disagree  that the road plan has evolved into a salmon enhancement program,” Jon said.  “There’s no doubt, however, that salmon enhancement has become a major factor in the road division’s maintenance, preservation and construction programs.

“There are only three salmon enhancement projects on the adopted 2012-2017 TIP,” he said. “These are the South Kingston (Carpenter Creek) Bridge (#7), Kitty Hawk Drive (#17) and the Bethel-Burley Road Bridge (#45).  Carpenter Creek was 100 per cent grant-funded, Kitty Hawk is the county’s share of a Suquamish Tribe enhancement project and Bethel Burley is an identified barrier.  But, of course, it’s not that simple.

“Since about 1995,” he said, ” the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife and Kitsap County have maintained a prioritized database of county-owned fish passage barriers.  These are typically culverts that restrict fish movement because of velocity, vertical drop or depth issues.

“The county has a responsibility to address these barriers and since 1997 Public Works has spent over $8 million resolving 26 barriers (through the road and storm and surface water management divisions).  These were projects originally conceived of as salmon enhancement projects.  The database has changed in character as new projects have been identified and added to the barrier list.  Existing culverts requiring replacement because they’re deteriorated or too small, have been inspected for fish passage and added to the barrier list as applicable.


The other part of the story is that there are thousands of existing county-owned culverts and bridges that fall under the jurisdiction of (Fish and Wildlife), the Corps of Engineers and others.

Sometimes bad things happen like a major storm ala Hite Center (#11) or Hunter Road (#13).  Other times, structurally deficient bridges and culverts have to be repaired or replaced to maintain safe and reliable access, like Southworth Drive (#3), Stavis Bay (#4) Wildcat Lake (#12) and others.

“When work takes place in fish-bearing waters, the county is required to meet current requirements, and that means the project has to maintain or enhance fish passage.  These requirements are also applied to road widening projects, like Bucklin Hill Road (#21).

“Other culvert projects on the TIP may not involve fish at all,” Jon said.  “These typically involve replacement of a deteriorated culvert for maintenance purposes like Eastview (#9, Miami Beach (#6), and Southworth Drive (#33, 34).”

To conserve space I haven’t described these projects very fully. You can learn more by going on line at www.kitsapgov.com/pw/sixyear_tip.htm and reading it yourself.