Bringing back Barker Creek

A portion of Tracyton Road has been closed since early October for the replacement of the Barker Creek culvert. - Jesse Beals/staff photo
A portion of Tracyton Road has been closed since early October for the replacement of the Barker Creek culvert.
— image credit: Jesse Beals/staff photo

Portion of Tracyton Road expected to reopen by Dec. 19.

Motorists looking to avoid heavy traffic along Ridgetop Boulevard will receive some good news next week as Tracyton Road is expected to reopen Friday, Dec. 19.

The road has been closed since October as the Barker Creek culvert was replaced through a joint effort by the Mid Puget Sound Fisheries Enhancement Group, Kitsap County, the Suquamish Tribe, the Washington State Department of Fish and Wildlife and Chums of Barker Creek.

“The project goals were to replace a partial salmon passage barrier (the existing 4-foot culvert), restore Dyes Inlet’s salinity, nutrients and ecosystem to the estuary upstream of the old culvert, and remove the blockage to transport large woody materials,” said Mid Puget Sound Fisheries Enhancement Board of Directors President Paul Dorn, who also works for the Suquamish Tribe, noting the old culvert blocked the normal exchange of fresh and saltwater in the full estuary.

Those goals were achieved by constructing a 36-foot wide and 13-foot tall bridge and plugging the old culvert, Dorn said.

West Sound Watersheds Council Coordinator Kathleen Peters said the project is extremely important for the environmental health of Barker Creek and Dyes Inlet.

“In addition, it will provide protection for the road itself, since material (sediment, logs) and water will be able to pass unimpeded through the new culvert,” Peter said. “The corridor of land around Barker Creek, including its estuary, was excluded from the Urban Growth Area.”

The most challenging aspect of the project was securing the necessary funding to make it a reality, Peters said.

“The two major challenges with the Barker Creek culvert replacement project were designing a project that could be built to withstand natural processes within the intertidal zone and to fulfill federal state and local rules and regulation requirements and securing the funding to build the project,” he said.

Mid Sound contracted GeoEngineers of Port Orchard to design the project and secured funding from the Salmon Recovery Board, the National Fish and Wildlife Service, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the Suquamish Tribe and a Bella Vista grant from the Chums of Barker Creek, he said.

“Each partner brought funding, or support for the project, and the collaboration went well,” he noted. “The project would not have been built without everyone’s effort.”

While the road is expected to open next week, the final completion of the project isn’t expected until the end of January, he said, adding that the old culvert will be plugged to prevent further erosion to the road grade and private property.

“The positive project impacts will be immediate and began with the first tidal influx after the cofferdam was breached,” he said.

Based on similar east Kitsap bridge projects in Dogfish and Beaver creeks, Dorn said restoring Barker Creek will include protecting quality habitat when possible; involving property owners in low-impact development opportunities; removing the few remaining fish-blocking culverts upstream of the estuary; improving the quality of stormwater runoff entering the stream; reducing the quantity of stormwater runoff entering the streams; implementing salmon enhancement strategies to re-populate the stream, if needed.

Also, implementing restoration actions like planting trees, adding wood structures to the stream, adding clean spawning gravel to some stretches of the stream to provide suitable salmon spawning habitat and restoring adjacent wetland connections to the stream.

“All of the above actions have been taken in various sections of Barker Creek already, but the more we continue to do, the greater the benefit to all fish, wildlife and citizens,” Dorn said.

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