I-5 and SR 11 Padden Creek - Fish Passage

Project news

  • This project was awarded to Granite Construction in July 2020.
  • WSDOT will construct this project through the design build process.
  • Travelers can sign up for email updates on this and other Whatcom County highway projects.
  • Padden Creek Fish Passage I-5 and SR 11 photos

Needs & benefits

Padden Creek supports the runs of coho and chum salmon and migrating Chinook salmon and steelhead trout. Removing two barriers, one under SR 11 at 30th Street, the other under Interstate 5 south of the SR 11/Old Fairhaven Parkway on- and off-ramps, will improve habitat for migratory species and other wildlife along the 2.7 miles of Padden Creek between Padden Lake and Bellingham Bay. These two barriers currently have slopes that prevent fish passage. The contractor will replace the existing concrete box culvert at I-5 with fish passable bridges and the double concrete box culvert at SR 11 with a 20 foot single span concrete box culvert. Additional improvements will be made for those who use sidewalks and crosswalks at SR 11 and 30th Street. 

Why we are removing fish passage barriers
State highways cross streams and rivers in thousands of places in Washington State, which can impede fish migration. WSDOT has worked for nearly three decades to improve fish passage and reconnect streams to help keep our waterways healthy. WSDOT Fish Barrier Correction is a priority.

History of teamwork
This project builds upon WSDOT’s existing partnership with the city of Bellingham. In 2015, we worked with the city to move a section of Padden Creek out of a 120-year-old tunnel. The project moved the creek into a new channel, restoring 2,300 feet of Padden Creek to improve fish habitat and reducing flooding risks to 159 homes in the Happy Valley neighborhood.

What travelers can expect
Current Padden Creek culverts run under two busy traffic corridors. WSDOT is working closely with the contractor to minimize the inconvenience to neighbors and travelers. Lane, bike lane and sidewalk closures, delays and construction noise should be expected as these culverts are improved. 

  • Beginning Sunday, June 13 through estimated mid-July: traffic on southbound I-5 near exit 250 to Old Fairhaven Parkway will shift onto a temporary two-lane bypass that runs parallel to the I-5 mainline. The speed limit will be reduced to 40 miles per hour on the temporary bypass for just over a half-mile.
  • Beginning Tuesday, July 6, through estimated mid-August: traffic on northbound I-5 near exit 250 Old Fairhaven Parkway will shift onto a temporary two-lane bypass that runs parallel to the I-5 mainline. The speed limit will be reduced to 50 miles per hour on the temporary bypass for just over half a half-mile.

Nightwork began April 26
Nightwork is allowable Sunday nights through Thursday nights between 8 p.m. and 7 a.m. Noise mitigation is in effect and crews will use inspected and approved truck bed liners, secure truck tailgates to limit banging and use ambient back-up warning alarms when possible. 


Nov. 4, 2019: Requests for qualifications advertised.
Jan. 21, 2020: Requests for Proposals advertised.
July 2020: Notice to proceed issued.
Summer 2020: Project design begins.
April 2021: Project construction begins.
October 2021: Project construction pauses for winter.
April 2022: Project construction resumes.
Fall 2022: Construction complete.


Financial Data for PIN 100583X, 101120F
Funding Source Amount ($ in thousands)
2003 Gas Tax (Nickel Funding) $0
2005 Gas Tax (TPA) $0
Pre-Existing Funds (PEF) $0
CWA $31,325
Total $31,325


RB McKeon

Mikkel Lamay
Project Engineer

A small map showing the two sites at I-5 and SR 11 that are part of the Padden Creek fish passage project.