To protect and restore salmon runs, WSDOT is correcting fish barriers found on state highways. Since 1991, when WSDOT created a dedicated program, 365 barriers have been corrected, opening a total of 1,215 miles of fish habitat.
Opening habitat allows more salmon and steelhead at all life stages (including juveniles who aren’t yet strong swimmers like adults) to access important spawning and rearing habitat, including areas that haven’t been accessed in years.
The new fish passages will benefit many species by creating new rearing and spawning habitat. The Sunset Creek passages will create up to 1.65 miles of potential habitat gain, including an upstream location rated good-to-excellent for rearing.
Barrier culverts prevent Tribes in western Washington from benefiting from their treaty-based fishing rights. While we have made progress since 1991, a 2013 federal court injunction requires us to speed up our fish passage work in western Washington. This project is part of WSDOT’s 2030 Fish Passage Delivery Plan to open 90% of habitat blocked by state culverts.
In designing this project, WSDOT has worked closely with the Muckleshoot Indian Tribe to select hydraulic specifications that ensure a strong revitalization Sunset Creek, and a return of fish to their natural habitat.
More fish, more jobs
According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, Washington’s seafood industry supports 64,000 jobs and $3.7 billion in economic value. These economic benefits depend on our state’s mission to reverse species decline and boost recovery rates. That is only possible if we make gains in habitat for spawning and rearing.
This project will also give an immediate boost to the area’s economy by creating more than 100 construction jobs.
Design work began in 2021. WSDOT issued a request for proposals to qualified contractors in spring 2022. Guy F. Atkinson Construction was identified as submitting the Apparent Best Value proposal in October 2022. Atkinson will complete the design work. Construction began in 2023 with completion projected for 2027.
This project is combined into a single contract with two other fish passage projects on SR 161 and SR 202 and 203.
Request for proposals from contractors
Guy F. Atkinson Construction identified as submitting the Apparent Best Value proposal
Expected completion of construction
For efficiency and savings, this project is being combined with the SR 161 unnamed tributaries to Hylebos Creek and the SR 202 Skunk Creek and SR 203 Snoqualmie River and Horseshoe Lake fish passage projects. The estimated project cost total for the I-90 Sunset Creek fish passage location is $104.4 million. The estimated project cost total for the three locations combined is $135 million.
Watch the recording of the May 17, 2022 online lunch and learn about this project and WSDOT's fish passage program.
Learn more about our fish passage recovery program.
Read about the 2013 federal injunction requiring WSDOT to speed up fish passage work in western Washington.