EDMONDS — A 5-foot-wide culvert had previously been the only way water from Lund’s Gulch Creek at Meadowdale Beach Park could enter Puget Sound.
Now, the opening is 100 feet across.
A 1.3 acre plot of land offering respite to traveling salmon is now protected. The project also opened up a beach to easy public use and added a bridge where an embankment had stood.
“This is like a poster child, we need to do dozens and dozens of these projects around Puget Sound,” U.S. Sen. Maria Cantwell in an interview.
The project broke ground in 2021 and construction finished this year. The park is accessible to the public via a 1.25-mile hiking trail that begins on 156th Street SW. A separate gated entrance is also available for ADA access. To use that gate, fill out an online form on Snohomish County’s website.
In addition to the beach access, there is also a new park shelter and footbridge. A short path connects the ADA parking lot to the beach. A tall fence separates the park from the railroad.
Around 40 trains come through each day, county officials said. Two rolled by during the two-hour event.
Over 100 people — mostly children — mingled and played on the beach Friday morning.
“If you’re familiar with what this crossing was like for people before this project, it was not hospitable. It was many times impassable,” Snohomish County Executive Dave Somers said in a speech. “I guess we can say it now: dangerous, in many ways. So our public really benefits from this.”
Burlington Northern Santa Fe owns the tracks. The company sent several representatives to the ribbon cutting, though they declined to comment.
The new bridge was built in 2022. About 10,000 yards of debris were removed from the site to create the opening for the stream and restored estuary.
The Tulalip Tribes set up a long-term monitoring camera to study and show the effects of the estuary restoration.
“Salmon have sustained us for generations and serve as a symbol of our history and our culture,” Tulalip Vice Chair Misty Napeahi said. “Through this project we honor our ancestors and work towards ensuring the survival and recovery of this iconic species.”
Snohomish County Council member and state Rep. Strom Peterson, D-Edmonds, also called it a step toward upholding treaty obligations. Through several treaties, Washington is obligated to uphold tribal fishing rights and ensure there is an abundant salmon population.
In 2013, a federal court ruling requires Washington to replace all culverts hindering salmon passage by 2030.
“This is one step to make sure that we are doing our part, again, in partnership, hand-in-hand, with our tribes,” Peterson said. “We have ignored those treaty rights for decades.”