STANWOOD — For the second summer in a row, a stretch of Highway 532 is closing to replace an undersized fish culvert below the road.
Detours could add at least 10 minutes to the commute in and out of Stanwood or Camano Island. Highway 532 is the main point of access from I-5.
The highway is set to close for about two weeks, starting 8 p.m. Aug. 11, where Church Creek runs underneath. That’s just east of the highway’s intersection with 72nd Avenue NW.
The closure is so workers can replace a culvert under the road.
“The existing structure is not considered to be passable for fish,” said Ron Burke, assistant project engineer.
The passage will be replaced with a larger box culvert. The road is to be rebuilt over it. Stream and landscaping work are likely to continue after the highway reopens.
The work is expected to improve access to more than 10 miles of habitat for salmon, according to the state Department of Transportation.
In small culverts, the water can be too shallow or create current too strong for fish to swim through. Larger culverts allow for more natural water flow. This is one of roughly 1,000 culverts that must be replaced around Washington, per a 2013 court ruling that orders removal of fish-blocking culverts beneath state roads.
The state’s total cost estimate for finishing all of the culverts is about $2.4 billion. Construction of the Church Creek culvert and highway rebuild is a $5.1 million project.
A temporary bypass road has been under construction this summer to keep traffic moving during the closure. It connects the highway to 268th Street NW. Westbound travelers are expected to turn right on 36th Avenue NW, left on 268th Street NW and then reconnect to the highway via the bypass road. Eastbound traffic is to veer left off the highway onto the bypass road to 268th, then right on 64th Avenue NW and left back onto the highway.
Speeds will be reduced during the closure, down to 25 mph on the bypass road.
Project engineer Shane Spahr lives in the area and noted in a news release that the detours will add time to everyone’s commutes. He asks that drivers allow for the extra time and mind speed limits because the detours rely on some residential roads, different from the highway commuters are accustomed to.
The detour is longer for trucks and RVs. Any vehicle that needs a wide turning radius should take exit 221 off of I-5, near Conway, and use Highway 534 to connect to Pioneer Highway into Stanwood.
Last year, the state did the same type of project at Secret Creek, which runs underneath Highway 532 near where it meets I-5.
Kari Bray: 425-339-3439; firstname.lastname@example.org.