Friday, July 19, 2019

A shore thing: WSDOT to reinforce troublesome riverbank along SR 530

Travelers should expect traffic delays in rural Skagit County

By Ally Barrera & Andrea Petrich

This past Monday, July 15, folks traveling on State Route 530 between Darrington and Rockport started to notice contractor crews working alongside the highway, close to the Sauk River. But rather than executing the usual road resurfacing or fish passage projects we normally see this time of year, they’re working on a less-common project called a ‘chronic environmental deficiency retrofit’.

The 4-1-1 on C-E-D
To most, a ‘chronic environmental deficiency’ – or CED – sounds like something you get when you’re not exposed to enough Vitamin D. Actually, a CED is an area along a roadway where “recent, frequent and chronic maintenance repairs to the highway are negatively affecting fish and their habitat.”

The bank between the SR 530 and the Sauk River – highlighted in the map below – is one of those locations.
This map shows where work along SR 530 is taking place this summer
to shore up the riverbank and protect fish and other wildlife.

Over the last decade, our crews have repaired riverbank erosion in that area of SR 530 multiple times, only to have to return again when more of the bank erodes. This photo shows just how close the river is to the road.

When the river is running high, it comes within feet of the highway. Once this project is complete, logs, rocks and other materials will keep the river from encroaching on the road.

Sending our maintenance crews to repair SR 530 year after year not only takes them away from doing other important work, but it disrupts this thriving aquatic habitat that’s home to lots of fish and other creatures.

A work zone down by the river
This week, contractor crews with Trimaxx Construction, Inc., started moving logs, rocks and other materials to help stabilize the bank between the Sauk River and SR 530. Crews will use barriers to give themselves enough space to safely work along the bank as they build a protective barrier to shield the area from future erosion.
Crews will take advantage of the low-running river to build a protective barrier along SR 530 this summer.

In addition to building the barrier, the work will also help any fish or other wildlife caught between the barrier and the bank return to the rest of the river through a process called fish exclusion, where our environmental team catch aquatic creatures in the project area and move them to a different part of the river before work starts.  In order to do all this work, though, crews need to close the eastbound lane of SR 530.

What travelers should expect
During this first week of work, crews only needed to close the eastbound lane weekdays from 7 a.m. to 5 p.m., with flaggers alternating traffic. Starting Monday, July 22, that changes. Crews will keep the lane closed around the clock for a few weeks to safely complete the work. They’ll use temporary traffic signals to move traffic through the work zone by alternating traffic through the westbound lane.

Travelers should plan on 5- to 10-minute delays during peak travel times and big weekend events like the Darrington Summer Meltdown.

The highway will return to its original two-lane state in mid-September, with any additional lane reductions only happening during weekdays.

Happening downstream
Also taking place on SR 530, contractor crews are working on a separate project just east of Arlington, where they’re building a new fish passage under the highway at Schoolyard Creek.
This map shows the planned detour during work to help travelers cruising down SR 530
or beside the roadway in the Sauk River.

Folks traveling between Darrington and Arlington should expect traffic delays during the day on Monday, July 22, and Wednesday, July 24. Beginning Thursday, July 25, crews will close SR 530 near Schoolyard Creek and alternate vehicles through a single-lane bypass 24 hours a day, seven days a week until Wednesday, Aug. 20.

This fish passage project helps WSDOT comply with a 2013 U.S. District Court ruling requiring the state to remove or replace highway culverts that block habitat for salmon and steelhead.

Plan ahead for smoother travel
You wouldn’t head down the river without a paddle, so don’t head out the door without checking the real-time traffic conditions. Find closure updates on the: