May 7, 2021
Second phase of fish passage work underway on Padden Creek
Mike Sato and Alex Meacham

Padden Creek’s passage under 30th Street and Old Fairhaven Parkway in Bellingham is on its way to being better salmon habitat as well as less prone to flooding yards and homes, as culverts will be replaced with a fish-passage bridge.

photo: Amy Nelson © 2021
May 7, 2021
Second phase of fish passage work underway on Padden Creek
Mike Sato and Alex Meacham

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In late April work began to correct fish passageways under Interstate 5 at the Old Fairhaven Parkway (State Route 11) exit and at the intersection of Old Fairhaven Parkway and 30th Street. When work is completed by the fall of 2022, coho, chum and chinook salmon will have access to 2.7 miles of the creek from its mouth in Bellingham Bay near the ferry terminal.

Current construction follows earlier removal of an 1890s-era tunnel, and rechanneling and daylighting of 2,300 feet of Padden Creek in the Happy Valley neighborhood north of Old Fairhaven Parkway. The work reduced flooding in the area and improved fish passage where the creek flows under the roadway.

Before the project was completed in 2015, the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife estimated 67% of fish passage in Padden Creek was blocked and flooding a threat to 159 homes in an estimated 15 city-block area. 

The daylighting and rechanneling elements of the first phase were completed at a cost of $2.8 million. With estuary restoration and stormwater treatment facilities, total cost was approximately $9.5 million

A City of Bellingham video shows the work it took to bring the creek back to health.

Completing the fish passage project

The second and final phase of the fish passage project is estimated to cost $31.2 million and is funded by the Clean Water Act.

Work is underway to remove the concrete box culvert where the creek flows under Interstate 5 and replace it with fish passable bridges. The work will require lane closures on north- and southbound lanes of the freeway and exit and entrance ramps.

At the intersection of Old Fairhaven Parkway and 30th Street, the existing double concrete box culvert will be replaced with a 20-foot single-span culvert. Lane closures will occur during evening to early morning work on Old Fairhaven Parkway.

Construction is expected to be completed by fall 2022 after work shuts down for the winter.

For project status information: Washington Department of Transportation I-5 and SR11 Padden Creek Fish Passage Project

For up-to-date travel information: WSDOT North Twitter account