Failing culvert impacts traffic in Elochoman Valley
A failing culvert has led Wahkiakum County officials to implement an emergency closure of one lane of Elochoman Valley Road. The single lane closure went into effect yesterday (Wednesday).
The culvert carries Clear Creek under the road at approximately Milepost 6.53.
Public Works Director Pete Ringen reported this week that the galvanized steel pipe is starting to buckle under the northbound lane.
"I'm deeply concerned," Ringen told the board of county commissioners Tuesday. "It is heavily corroded and has buckled. It could collapse. It's mainly on the downstream side. I feel it's okay to leave the southbound lane open.
The road is a major hauling route for log trucks. Commission Chair Dan Cothren, who works for Hancock Forest Management, commented that trucks would be hauling on the road through September.
Ringen has long had plans to replace the culvert with a bridge. This would restore approximately 2.5 miles of Clear Creek to viable habitat for salmon and other fish.
"It's a very expensive project," Ringen said. He estimates the cost at almost $1 million. He has been seeking funding from state and federal sources, and this summer, the Lower Columbia Fish Recovery Board has offered a $340,000 grant for the project.
Ringen has also applied to the state County Road Administration Board for $500,000 in funding. The board will evaluate applications and make funding awards next week, Ringen said.
"There are no guarantees; we're competing with other counties for funding," he said.