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Creek culvert work underway on Tacoma Street


by: DAVID F. ASHTON - In the ditch is a pipe that will temporarily divert Crystal Springs Creek, seen in the background, while workers construct a new, larger, fish-friendly culvert.“What’s going on here?” was the question most frequently heard in June by workers along S.E. Tacoma Street, just west of the Tacoma Viaduct.

The traffic disruption, flaggers, and narrowed roadway, were the result of the “Crystal Springs Creek Tacoma Culvert Replacement Project” getting underway. The creek flows under the road, near S.E. 21st Avenue.

The Army Corps of Engineers, Portland District, is working with the City of Portland Bureau of Environmental Services (BES) to replace a four-foot-wide culvert with a new fourteen-foot-wide culvert which will improve fish passage and stream flow, and also help reduce flooding there.

Expect traffic tie ups during work days, officials say. In July, travel lanes will be narrower and shifted to one side of the street, while half the culvert is constructed on the other side.  Nearby parking will be restricted and access to some residences and businesses will be impacted. Later, the lanes will shift to the other side of the road so the rest of the culvert can be built.

In-water work will begin on July 15, and continue until August 31, to minimize impacts to migrating fish. The project is expected to be completed by the end of October.