A stretch of Kalifornsky Beach Road in Kasilof will be closed starting today until June 15 as crews put in a wider culvert, allowing for better fish passage.
According to Gary Walklin, a project engineer with the Alaska Department of Transportation, the work is not a do-over from 2008 construction.
Walkin said that improving fish habitat upstream of the roadway on Coal Creek has been a priority since 2000, but funding and permits to replace the culvert in question were not available two years ago.
The nearly $2 million federally funded project will replace an existing 9-foot diameter culvert with an 18-foot diameter culvert at Mile Post 2.
The existing 9-foot culvert has a large, 15-foot deep plunge pool on the outlet end. The existing grade through the culvert does not meet fish passage criteria and is creating velocities too high for juvenile fish to get through.
According to Robert Ruffner, executive director of the Soldotna-based Kenai Watershed Forum, the project will create a passageway for roughly thousands of juvenile salmon.
In 2008 K-Beach was widened and leveled between the Sterling Highway and Mile 4.3, and between Mile 11 and Mile 16.2 near Bridge Access Road as part of a $9 million state-funded project that included some culvert replacement.
Andrew Waite can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
Dante Petri contributed to this report.
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