Tumwater replacing culvert on Sapp Road for safe salmon passage; seeks grant


Tumwater is seeking a $2.1 million grant from the U.S. Department of Transportation (USDOT) to fund the replacement of a culvert on the crossing of Sapp Road and Percival Creek, thus allowing better passage of salmon in the stream.

On Tuesday, March 7, the city council approved a resolution modifying the city's 2023-2028 transportation improvement program to indicate that the project is fully funded. The city plans to submit the planning document to the Thurston Regional Planning Council for inclusion in the statewide transportation improvement program, which is required to secure the grant.

According to Environmental Consultant Meredith Greer, other requirements for securing the grant include right-of-way certification and a National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) permit, which have been completed. The project must also be "shovel-ready," Greer said they are close to approaching as they expect to complete the whole design by June.

The grant is from the "Promoting Resilient Operations for Transformative, Efficient, and Cost-Saving Transportation" (PROTECT) funding, covers $2,179,600 and requires a local match of $240,400. An estimated $2 million of the funding would be used for construction, while $100,000 would be used for right-of-way acquisition.

Transportation Manager Mary Heather Ames said that in Washington State, PROTECT funding has mainly been used to fund projects aiming to remove barriers to fish passage, which is the issue that the project in Tumwater addresses.

Greer explained that the existing culvert on Sapp Road is blocking a third of Percival Creek, thus hindering the passage of salmon. The city plans to replace the culvert with a 19-foot four-sided box culvert and realign 135 feet of the stream with "wooden structures," which are essentially big trees that would help the creek flow more naturally.

"As the stream moves, these trees would fall in naturally," Greer said. "They'd help to create habitat. They're great places for fish to be able to hide."

The culvert's design also calls for sidewalks and bike lanes on Sapp Road, as it is currently too narrow, according to Greer.


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