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Posted on: June 9, 2023

County Publishes Answers to Frequently Asked Questions About the Killebrew Lake Road Closure

Public Works Update 2

SAN JUAN COUNTY, WA. June 9, 2023 – San Juan County’s Public Works Department will be replacing a culvert for Bayhead Creek on Killebrew Lake Road.  

What is this project? 

The County will replace a culvert on Killebrew Lake Road, just east of Laporte Road. The FEMA-funded project will install a 12-foot-wide box culvert, specially designed to withstand significant 100-yr flood events and provide fish passage to Bayhead Creek. It is a critical project for road preservation.   

Installation of the 12-foot-wide culvert requires excavation of a 26-foot-deep by 100-foot-wide area – making foot bridges or one-lane car passage impractical.   

When will work take place? 

Work will begin on July 10 and continue for approximately two to three months. During this time, Killebrew Lake Road will be closed to through traffic 24/7. No access will be permitted on evenings or weekends. The County will work to complete the project as quickly as possible in an effort to re-open the road before September 29. This two-three month construction window is due to the depth of excavation and enormous size of the concrete box culvert, among other project considerations. 

What is the Detour Route? 

The detour route will be via Orcas Road, McNallie Lane, and Dolphin Bay Road. The proposed detour route still provides access to the ferry terminal via publicly maintained roads. We understand this adds time to the commute and recommend budgeting about 40 minutes of extra travel time.

Why is this project significant? 

A storm in January of 2020 damaged the previous culvert under Killebrew Lake Road. With emergency consultation from the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW), San Juan County was allowed to immediately replace the 24-inch culvert, but with the requirement of installing a more permanent, flood and fish-passable culvert in the future. Now, the Public Works Department has contracted with Matia Contractors from Ferndale to install the new culvert. The project is funded by emergency response and replacement funds from FEMA.

Is it possible to create bypass road for cars? 

Creation of a bypass road is predicated on securing access to private property. Adjoining property owners are not willing to accommodate a temporary road and the County asks the public to respect their private property rights. Further complicating any bypass is the presence of extensive wetlands, unstable soils, and private property to the north of the project that make a bypass road unfeasible.  

Staff is exploring the possibility of allowing one lane to remain open during a portion of construction. Staff is currently working with the contractor to determine if this is possible, and the public will be notified if alternative routes will be available.   

Will Dolphin Bay Road receive any additional maintenance? 

During the period of construction, the detour route will receive additional maintenance including grading, graveling, and using dust palliative on Dolphin Bay Road throughout the summer.

Is there a plan for emergency response?  

Law enforcement, fire, and EMT services have been notified of the project and will continue to provide emergency services throughout the duration of the project.

Why is this project being done now? 

Public Works needs to capitalize on drier weather to complete time-sensitive projects. Many of these culvert replacement projects are not possible during times of heavy runoff, making summer the primary season for proactive road repairs to prevent against possible failures or washouts. Compliance with state and federal regulations require the County to work within the in-stream permitting window which limits our work time in the creek to no later than September 30.   

How was the public notified? 

The public was notified of this project upgrade and its implications on May 31 via a County news release. An electronic reader board is also staged at the site. 

Where can I learn more? 

The County’s Public Works Department is hosting a project on Monday, June 12 at the Orcas Landing at 12:00pm. The meeting will take place on the first floor of the Orcas Landing building.

This noon meeting is intended for residents along the impacted route. County staff, including Council Chair Cindy Wolf (District 2), will be in attendance to facilitate the discussion.

About San Juan County’s Public Works Department    

San Juan County’s Public Works Department constructs and maintains county roads, designs and constructs storm water facilities, and plans and contracts for solid waste services. The department offices are located at 1609 Beaverton Valley Rd, Friday Harbor, WA 98250. For more information about San Juan County’s Public Works Department, visit www.sanjuanco.com/277/Public-Works .

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