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SR 3 – Chico Creek – Remove Fish Barriers Project – Barriers and improvements to fish passage at SR 3 and Chico Way Northwest

Five culverts serve Chico Creek and a connected unnamed tributary. Each culvert acts as barriers to fish passage. The narrow culverts also change the angle of how Chico Creek flows into Chico Bay and Dyes Inlet.

A map graphic representation of the SR 3 and Chico Way Northwest interchange shows five fish passage barriers along Chico Creek and the unnamed tributary located under the existing southbound SR 3 exit and on-ramp, under Chico Way Northwest, and under both directions of SR 3 just south of the interchange.
This map shows the barriers to fish passage at SR 3 and Chico Way Northwest.

Fixing the issue would allow access to about 21 miles of potential fish habitat. Chico Creek is home for native fish species including Chinook salmon, and chum salmon. Other fish are coho salmon, coastal cutthroat and steelhead trout. There also are sculpin and western brook lamprey.

A map graphic representation of the SR 3 and Chico Way Northwest interchange shows the completed project with two new bridges and new locations of the southbound SR 3 exit and on-ramps, creating more space for Chico Creek and the unnamed tributary and eliminating the need for culverts.
This map shows the improvements to fish passage at SR 3 and Chico Way Northwest.

The end result

The enhancements and barrier removal at Chico Creek will:

  • Improve access to 21 miles of potential habitat
  • Allow more fish access to spawning habitat
  • Build a replicated natural streambed for Chico Creek
  • Reduce future maintenance costs due to culvert blockages by removing undersized culverts
  • Minimizing risk for upstream flooding

Crews will make changes that will help replicate natural stream conditions. Workers will create a natural streambed by using a mix of gravel and varying-sized rock.

The new channel will create critical new habitat for the salmon life cycle. The stream is home for young fish until they are mature enough to make it to the ocean. The habitat will also serve as a place for spawning salmon to return and lay eggs for the next generation.