Foothills Trail users can expect to see construction trucks crossing the trail just north of the McMillin Trailhead when work resumes June 30 on a side channel that will reconnect the Puyallup River to its historic floodplain near Orting.
The side channel, which will also reduce flooding and provide salmon habitat, will be built in three segments, which will ultimately be connected together and to the Puyallup River. Most of the work will be done during summer months to minimize impacts to fish in the river.
Last summer, crews built a 2,000 foot-long section of the side channel, and they will connect it to the Puyallup River this summer. In late July, crews will start to build a second 1,200 foot-long channel, install engineered log jams and construct a perimeter access road. The project is anticipated to be completed next year, when a third segment of the side channel will be built, connecting the channel segments together and to the Puyallup River. Construction of the final phase is dependent upon obtaining additional grant funding.
“When completed, this side channel will be the longest on the Puyallup River and will have water flows year-round,” said Harold Smelt, Public Works and Utilities surface water manager. “Side channels provide benefits such as additional flood storage and rearing and spawning habitat for salmon.”
During the work, construction trucks will access the project site on South Fork Road, which crosses the Foothills Trail just north of the McMillin Trailhead and the State Route 162 bridge over the Puyallup River. Flaggers will direct truck traffic and trail users. Trail users may be stopped for short periods of time while trucks cross over the trail.
In 2014, construction is funded with a $1,044,000 Floodplain by Design grant from the Department of Ecology and $49,768 in Real Estate Excise Tax funding from Pierce County. A contractor is expected to be selected in July.
Watch a one-minute project video: “Floodplain in Orting protects homes east of the Puyallup River.” Learn more about the project at www.piercecountywa.org/southfork.
Randy Brake, Pierce County Public Works and Utilities project manager
Liz Satterthwaite, Pierce County Public Works and Utilities public information specialist