Update: WSDOT has rescheduled work on Little Minter Creek, including an eight day closure of SR-302, until summer 2022. Work will continue to complete the new bridge and restore the stream near 118th Avenue NW.
Multiple improvements over an 8-mile stretch of State Route 302 stretching from Elgin Clifton Road to Purdy, delayed by Covid restrictions in 2020, are back on track for completion by year’s end. Construction delays are expected to slow travel from August into September, with an upcoming eight-day closure of SR-302 to install new culverts at Little Minter Creek just north of the Minter Creek Bridge.
The exact dates of the schedule were not finalized as of press time but the signed detour route, using 118th Avenue NW, Creviston Drive NW and 134th Avenue NW, is expected to add roughly five minutes to the drive, according to a travel notice from Washington State Department of Transportation Project Engineer Lone Moody.
Heavy trucks and oversized loads will follow a different detour route to bypass the area, using SR-16 and SR-3 through Belfair to avoid the SR-302 closure.
While the new bridge over Minter Creek has been open since last fall, crews returned in July to complete the multi-year WSDOT project designed to improve fish passage for spawning salmon. Crews will remove the old culvert, grade the stream bed and place natural debris into the channel as part of the stream restoration effort. A new guardrail will be installed near the bridge to conclude the project that began in 2019.
Alternating traffic reduced the highway to one lane at times to allow contractors to move equipment in and out of the work area safely, creating long delays at times.
With the Minter Creek Bridge complete, crews began work to remove and replace two outdated culverts near 118th Avenue NW at Little Minter Creek.
“Field biologists collected and relocated nearly 700 baby salmon and other fish to an area outside the work zone,” in a process Moody described as “defishing.”
“To do this, biologists set up a net to prevent fish from entering the work area, then start walking down the creek with a weighted net to flush the fish downstream, then another net is set to prevent the fish from swimming back into the work area. Next, they used a device called an Electrofisher to shock any fish that remain in the creek, which they then scoop up, identify and count, and relocate downstream.”
In a presentation made at the Key Peninsula Community Council meeting May 12 via Zoom, WSDOT Multimodal Planning Engineer Dennis Engel and Regional Traffic Engineer Sara Ott outlined additional work coming this summer.
“Plans made to resurface the deck of the Purdy Bridge last August were postponed due to Covid related delays on the Minter Creek Bridge construction that missed the window of dry weather needed for the contractor to complete the work,” Engel said. The two projects had been bid together in an attempt to save both time and money, a plan thwarted by the pandemic.
Upcoming work is scheduled to begin mid-August to rehabilitate columns and beams on the Purdy Bridge, paving of SR-302 north to 154th Street NW, and removal of the fish barrier on the SR-302 spur at Purdy Creek; and removal of another barrier to fish passage near Peninsula High School.
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