Open house set for estuary project

Representatives will be at Brinnon Community Center

BRINNON — An open house for the Duckabush Estuary Restoration Project is scheduled for 10 a.m. Saturday at the Brinnon Community Center.

The project to reconnect the Duckabush River estuary with historical tidelands and river channels will eventually have a 1,600-foot span of U.S. Highway 101 rebuilt as an elevated bridge to allow for wildlife passage and accommodate for tidal and flood waters.

The open house will be available until noon at the Brinnon Community Center, 306144 Highway 101.

“We’re excited to get this project going,” said Bridgette Mire, a spokesperson for the state Department of Fish and Wildlife. “It’s been a few years in the making and there’s kind of a long road ahead of us. It is a complex project.”

Design for the project began in 2019, but planning for estuary restoration dates back more than a decade.

The whole project is expected to cost about $100 million, Mire said, with 65 percent of that cost being covered by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, one of the partners on the project.

The state’s funding will come from a variety of sources, including federal grants, Mire said.

In 2022, the state Legislature allocated $25 million for the construction phase and more than $19 million was allocated by the State Salmon Recovery Funding Board.

U.S. Rep. Derek Kilmer, D-Gig Harbor, secured $1 million in funding to help Mason County Public Utility District No. 1 relocate utility lines along the project corridor.

A final design is expected in late 2025 and construction will take about four years once funding is secured, according to the Department of Fish and Wildlife, the lead organization.

Construction isn’t slated to begin until at least 2026, depending on funding, according Department of Transportation spokesperson Cara Mitchell.

The current section of Highway 101 will remain open until the new portion is completed.

“Attendees are welcome to drop in any time during the two-hour open house to visit stations detailing various elements of the project,” WDFW said in a news release. “(WDFW) is hosting the open house to provide an update on the restoration project and answer questions.”

Work will involve a new 1,614-foot-long bridge across the estuary and a redesigned intersection, including a left-turn lane from northbound Highway 101 to Duckabush Road. The new bridge will have wider shoulders and parking areas on the north and south ends with footpaths to access the estuary.

Representatives from WDFW, DOT, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and the Hood Canal Salmon Enhancement Group will be available to answer questions.

In addition to increased access for wildlife, the project is being designed to help with flooding which can occur in the area. In 2015, heavy rainfall caused the Duckabush River to overflow, causing local flooding and damaging several homes in the Brinnon area.

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