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Tacoma Street's culvert project nears end

by: DAVID F. ASHTON - As of around Labor Day, the in-water work should have been completed - but use caution: Workers will still be installing railings and restoring natural amenities in the area. Those who travel Sellwood’s Tacoma Street crossing over Crystal Springs Creek noticed that traffic lanes shifted from the south to the north side of the road in August, as part of the project to replace the creek’s culvert under the street with a much larger and more fish-friendly one.

After digging out the north side, contractors dropped in a giant, one-piece precast concrete culvert liner, and repaved the road. By mid-August, workers had similarly excavated the south side, making it ready for the second ready-made culvert segment to be lowered into place.

“Right now, we’re getting close to wrapping up the second of two phases of this project,” said U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ Restoration Project Manager James Adams.

Their partnership began when the City of Portland identified problems with fish passage in Crystal Springs Creek and began a plan for ecosystem restoration,” Adams reminded. “The City of Portland initiated a project with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers by submitting a request letter to the Corps, requesting the use of one of its authorities – that is for ecosystem restoration,” Adams explained.

“Specifically, the one for this program is ‘Section 206 of the Continuing Authorities Program’, originally authorized in 1996 by the United States Congress, to allow that Corps to work with local municipalities and other entities to do ecosystem restoration work.”

That federal authorization provides up to $5 million that the Corps was able to contribute to the project. “The two phases – the downstream work, and now, replacing this culvert and stream restoration in Westmoreland Park – utilizes essentially all of that $5 million.”

Adams’ evaluation of the project? “It’s going great. It’s taking a little bit longer that we would have liked, for a number of reasons; but based on feedback that we’ve gotten from local residents and others, everyone seems to be very, very happy with it.”

By the time you read this, the in-water work on this project should have been completed.