Pierce County resumes Puyallup River flood mitigation project

Work resumed this week on a project that will create a side channel to reconnect the Puyallup River to its historic floodplain near Orting.

The side channel, which also aims to 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, according to Pierce County officials.

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,” Pierce County Public Works and Utilities Surface Water Manager Harold Smelt. “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.

Construction is funded with a $1,044,000 Floodplain by Design grant from the Washington State Department of Ecology, and $49,768 in Real Estate Excise Tax funding from Pierce County.

More information is available online at piercecountywa.org/southfork.

To read the Tacoma Daily Index‘s complete and comprehensive coverage of the Puyallup River South Fork Floodplain Restoration Project, click on the following links: