New SR 164 Bridge over Pussyfoot Creek opens up fish habitat

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Before National Route 164 was paved in 1948, a small culvert was added to carry Pussyfoot Creek under the road.  After almost 50 years, this culvert was no longer effective.  WSDOT added a larger steel culvert and blocked the old culvert with brick.  Now the two culverts and the backfill surrounding them have been removed and replaced with a bridge.

Before National Route 164 was paved in 1948, a small culvert was added to carry Pussyfoot Creek under the road. After almost 50 years, this culvert was no longer effective. WSDOT added a larger steel culvert and blocked the old culvert with brick. Now the two culverts and the backfill surrounding them have been removed and replaced with a bridge.

WSDOT

National Route 164 between Auburn and Enumclaw reopened Thursday after a three-month closure just east of the White River Amphitheater to allow for the construction of a new bridge over Pussyfoot Creek, designed to stimulate fish populations.

Contractors working for the state Department of Transportation removed an 11-foot-diameter culvert, an old unused culvert and the equivalent of a debris bed under the road. They replaced the structures with the 172 foot long bridge on the Muckleshoot reserve.

This new bridge will allow Pussyfoot Creek to flow freely under the highway. In turn, this makes it easier for fish to move upstream and downstream.

The $ 11.8 million bridge opened 9.3 miles of riverine habitat for coho salmon, rainbow trout and coastal cutthroat trout, according to the WSDOT. Other fish and animals that live or use the waters can also move more easily in the natural habitat.

The Pussyfoot Creek Bridge is the latest in a series of culvert replacements in Puget Sound designed to open up habitat for long-stranded fish.

The WSDOT said its fish passage program has completed 365 projects statewide and opened more than 1,200 miles of habitat. Fish use the recovered streams to spawn and rebuild their species.

Pussyfoot Creek flows into the White River.

Completion of work on the bridge could cause occasional travel delays, the WSDOT said.

Craig Sailor has worked for The News Tribune since 1998 as a writer, editor and photographer. He previously worked for The Olympian and for other newspapers in Nevada and California. He graduated in journalism from San Jose State University.


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