Pierce County projects aim to reduce Puyallup River flood risk

Pierce County expects to reduce flood risk along two sections of the Puyallup River with three projects set for this summer.

Construction has begun on a 2,000-foot-long side channel near Orting, and work on another project that will use engineered log jams to prevent damage to the roadway between Electron Road and 249th Street East begins in August.

On July 1, construction began on a side channel along the west side of the Puyallup River near Orting. Construction will continue until fall and then resume next summer. During construction, large trucks and heavy equipment will reach the project site via South Fork Road, crossing the Foothills Trail just north of the McMillin Trailhead and State Route 162 bridge. Flaggers will be onsite to direct truck traffic and trail users. The project will be completed in multiple phases. The first phase will cost approximately $1.62 million. Pierce County received a $719,000 grant from the Salmon Recovery Funding Board to design and construct the first phase. The county will pursue additional grant funding to complete the channel. Ceccanti, Inc. is the contractor for the first phase. “This project will reduce flood risk in the area, restore floodplain and provide salmon habitat,” said Public Works and Utilities surface water manager Harold Smelt. More information about this project is available online at piercecountywa.org/southfork.

In August, construction will begin on the first of several proposed projects to protect Orville Road along the Puyallup River. Crews will construct engineered log jams along about a 700-foot-long stretch of the riverbank to prevent damage to the roadway between Electron Road and 249th Street East. Many properties depend on Orville Road for access in and out of the area. Active Construction, Inc. has been hired to construct the project, which will cost $1.2 million. More information about this project is available online at piercecountywa.org/orville. A community meeting on flood protection strategies for the area of the Puyallup River near Orville Road will be held from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. on Thurs., July 18 at the Orting Lions Club, 19725 Orville Road East, in Orting. A presentation by Pierce County Public Works and Utilities staff will begin at 6:30 p.m. Staff will be available before and after the presentation to answer questions. Learn more about the meeting online at piercecountywa.org/orvillemtg.

Throughout the summer, Pierce County maintenance crews will work along the major rivers in Pierce County to maintain and repair flood protection infrastructure. Work includes clearing and planting vegetation, and repairing and re-enforcing flood protection structures, such as levees and revetments.

Due to federal, state and local environmental regulations, construction on most river projects must be done during the summer to avoid impacts to salmon. Public Works and Utilities’ Surface Water Management division is responsible for obtaining construction and environmental permits for these projects.

“Our goal is to design and maintain systems that keep people and property out of harm’s way in the event of a major flood,” said Pierce County Executive Pat McCarthy. “These projects along the Puyallup River will reduce flood risk, among other important benefits. County staff and crews work hard to provide flood protection for private property and critical public facilities such as roads and bridges.”