Projects Affecting Culverts in Western Washington

Printer Friendly Number 2013-36

Please click here for the PDF version.

The Washington State Department of Transportation (WSDOT) is beginning to replace or improve for fish passage a large number of culverts under state highways in Western Washington. This is due to a lawsuit brought by 21 Tribes against WSDOT and other State agencies. The court ordered WSDOT to correct a substantial number of fish passage barriers associated with state highways, and ordered Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW), Department of Natural Resources (DNR), and State Parks to correct barriers for which those agencies have responsibility. There are likely over 800 of these culvert projects to be completed by 2030.

This bulletin alerts Western Washington grantees of this process and of the potential for interaction and overlap between some transit projects and the correction of these barriers. In most cases, making these culverts fish-passable will require either the construction of a bridge or the installation of a large culvert, up to 26 feet wide. As a result, there will likely be disruption to traffic and possibly issues that will affect transit projects.

The Federal Transit Administration (FTA) urges transit project planners and designers to be cognizant of the fact that these projects are going forward, and to coordinate your work with WSDOT (or, if applicable, DNR, WDFW or State Parks). Affected projects could include those involving work over or adjacent to a state facility (most likely a highway) in Western Washington that has an existing culvert. Early coordination will help ensure that:

(a) Your transit construction work is not making fish-blocking culverts more difficult to repair, and;
(b) You are not making improvements that will have to be removed later as part of the culvert replacement program.

If any of your projects are on or around WSDOT facilities that have culverts, we ask you to contact one of the following to confirm there are no conflicts with WSDOT’s program:

Paul Wagner                                                                       Mike Barber
WSDOT Biology Branch Manager                                  WSDOT Stream Restoration Manager, 360-705-7406            , 360-705-7518

Potential conflicts with projects that might affect facilities under the jurisdiction of other affected agencies are less likely but still possible. Please remain alert to them and consult with those agencies as needed. Their points of contact are:

WDFW:          Julie Henning,, 360-902-2555

DNR:              Alex Nagygyor,, 360-902-1162 
                        Candace Montoya,, 360-902-1212

State Parks:  Deb Petersen,, 360-902-8634

For further information, contact Region 10’s Dan Drais at 206-220-4465 or email


/Kenneth A Feldman/ for

R.F. Krochalis
Regional Administrator