At Meadowdale Park Salmon Restoration Project Groundbreaking, Cantwell Highlights Importance of Removing Barriers to Salmon Passage

Cantwell secured $4 billion for culvert restoration in Senate Commerce Committee-passed surface transportation bill

EDMONDS, WA – Today, U.S. Senator Maria Cantwell (D-WA) joined Snohomish County Council Vice Chair Megan Dunn, Mayor of Edmonds Mike Nelson, State Senator for the 21st District Marko Liias, Snohomish County Director of Parks and Recreation Tom Teigen, and other local organizations at Meadowdale Beach Park for the groundbreaking of a culvert replacement project which will benefit endangered Puget Sound Chinook salmon. During the event, Senator Cantwell toured the project site and discussed the importance of salmon habitat restoration.

“We’re learning that if we want a shot at saving salmon, then we need to stop and think about how to pull out these blockages. And that is why I'm so happy to say that we passed a bill out of the Senate Commerce Committee that authorized for the first time $4 billion dollars for culvert restoration, to make us responsible federally to help in this situation of removing things that have been a damage to this passage and ways to make sure that transportation infrastructure is improving the fish highways that we need to have to return salmon,” said Senator Cantwell.

In August 2018, Senator Cantwell wrote a letter to the Federal Railroad Administration in support of the grant application. In June 2019, Senator Cantwell announced that the $3.5 million grant had been awarded to Meadowdale Beach Park. This funding comes from the Consolidated Rail Infrastructure and Safety Improvement (CRISI) program at the U.S. Department of Transportation (USDOT). Last month the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation approved, on an overwhelming bipartisan basis, Cantwell’s $78 billion Surface Transportation Investment Act which would increase funding for the CRISI program by more than 350 percent. The bill also includes a new program authorizing $4 billion over five years to conduct culvert improvements and replacements which could benefit Washington salmon populations by restoring habitat and access to traditional spawning grounds.

Meadowdale Beach Park is a 108-acre park along Puget Sound that features over 500 feet of shoreline and one mile of riparian habitat along Lund’s Gulch Creek. Currently, the creek runs through a narrow culvert which restricts access for critical salmon populations that spawn in Lund’s Gulch Creek. This project will restore a historic, pre-railroad 1.3-acre estuary that will provide essential habitat for endangered Chinook, Chum, and Coho salmon, as well as Cutthroat trout. 

This project entails removing 128 linear feet of railroad embankment (shoreline armoring) along with the 6-foot wide culvert and installing a 5-span railroad bridge with a 100-foot opening to address ADA accessibility, beach access, fish passage, flooding, sediment delivery and maintenance issues associated with the undersized culvert.

Senator Cantwell has been a long-time advocate for environmental restoration and protecting the Pacific Northwest’s salmon populations. Earlier this year, Cantwell secured commitments from Secretary of Commerce, Gina Raimondo, to work on increasing investments in salmon habitat and prioritizing fisheries management.

You can find Cantwell’s 2018 letter to the Federal Railroad Administration in support of the project  HERE