Travelers will need to follow a detour to reach the other side of a road closure on 128th Street SE and Highway 96 just west of Dumas Road and Elgin Way near McCollum Pioneer Park. (Washington State Department of Transportation)

Travelers will need to follow a detour to reach the other side of a road closure on 128th Street SE and Highway 96 just west of Dumas Road and Elgin Way near McCollum Pioneer Park. (Washington State Department of Transportation)

Drivers must reroute so salmon have a better commute near Mill Creek

This weekend, lanes on 128th Street SE and Highway 96 will be closed west of Dumas Road and Elgin Way for culvert replacement.

Human travelers who use 128th Street SE, also called Highway 96, will be a little inconvenienced this weekend to make sure fish have an easier commute in North Creek.

Westbound lanes were set to close 10 p.m. Friday until 10 p.m. Sunday west of Dumas Road and Elgin Way near McCollum Pioneer Park. Only the right lane will be open for eastbound traffic over the weekend.

The detour for westbound travel is 6.5 miles around the closure. It takes people to Highway 527, 164th Street SE and northbound I-5 to reach destinations on the other side of the road closure.

Crews contracted by the Washington State Department of Transportation need the closure to excavate and put in temporary shoring piles.

The state is required to replace culverts and make them passable for fish because of a court decision in 2007. There were over 2,000 documented barriers to fish passage, most of which were culverts that blocked upstream habitat. The goal is to open 90% of blocked waters by 2030.

So far, the state has finished nearly 400 fish barrier projects. In Snohomish County, 16 are planned through 2025 in Snohomish County, though dozens remain to be done here and more statewide.

Replacing the culverts is critical to restore access for salmon to spawning habitat. Some of the old culverts are too small and funnel water, especially after heavy rainfall, almost into a hose that keeps salmon at bay, as The Daily Herald’s Melissa Slager reported in 2018 after a culvert replacement at Edgecomb Creek in Arlington.

Underneath 128th Street SE and Highway 96, the 18-inch pipe culvert is being replaced with a 25-foot-wide concrete box culvert. The gentler, wider space is expected to open about 2½ miles of habitat for fish, according to the WSDOT.

It may not mean much to drivers caught in the churn this weekend trying to get to I-5 or other parts west from the Mill Creek area.

More weekend closures for westbound Highway 96, as well as single-lane closures for both directions over extended weekends are ahead but were not scheduled as of Friday. Overnight lane closures and traffic shifts in both directions are planned but not yet scheduled.

All of the work is expected to finish in October.

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