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Thursday, July 28, 2011
Mike Westbay, WSDOT communications, 509-577-1617 (Yakima)
Kelly Stowe, WSDOT communications, 360-357-2716 (Tumwater)
WSDOT projects celebrated on national stage
OLYMPIA – It’s not always just about building roads and bridges. Often, transportation projects also help rebuild communities and improve the surrounding environment. The Washington State Department of Transportation (WSDOT) was recently recognized for its successes in sustainable transportation and environmental protection.
In October 2009, a landslide massive enough to fill more than 1 million Olympic-sized swimming pools buried State Route 410 and dammed the Naches River. The slide cut off access for local residents and travelers, and the redirected river flooded the Nile Valley.
WSDOT rushed to the scene, along with a host of other agencies and volunteers, to quickly build a temporary bypass road, reroute the river into a new channel, and save more than 500 Chinook, coho and steelhead salmon. And all in less than eight weeks.
The U.S. DOT awarded this project the 2011 Exemplary Human Environment Initiative award and the Exemplary Ecosystem Initiative award – one of only two projects nationwide to receive both awards.
WSDOT responded to an emergency of a different nature near the town of Blyn (Clallam County). Two centuries of development, logging, roads, railroads, dredging, filling and diking in Blyn damaged the Jimmycomelately ecosytem so badly that only seven salmon returned to spawn in 1999.
Alongside local efforts to revive the dying ecosystem, WSDOT partnered with the community to build a new bridge on US 101. The bridge not only improved the migration of fish and wildlife and reduced flooding, but WSDOT also helped restore the nearby estuary.
The U.S. DOT awarded this project with the 2011 Exemplary Ecosystem Initiative award.
“While we are proud to be recognized for our transportation improvements and efforts to preserve the environment, we also want to recognize all the other agencies and volunteers who played an equally important role and deserve as much credit,” said Washington Secretary of Transportation Paula Hammond. “The partnerships and teamwork that it took to accomplish these extraordinary transportation projects are perfect examples of what we can do for the environment when we work together.”
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