I-5 & SR 548 - Tributaries to California Creek - Fish Passage

Project news

  • WSDOT has awarded this project to Kiewit Infrastructure West Co.
  • Construction will start in late spring/early summer 2020 and will includes lane closures on I-5 and a complete closure of SR 548 during parts of construction.
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Needs & benefits

Starting in spring/summer 2020, Washington State Department of Transportation contractor crews will replace culverts in two different waterways leading to California Creek in Whatcom County.

One series of culverts funnel a tributary to California Creek under I-5 near Willeys Lake Road and the south end of Grandview Golf Course. WSDOT contractor crews will replace one culvert under the southbound lanes, one under the northbound lanes and another under Zell Road.

The other barrier this project will correct is at State Route 548/Grandview Road and Portal Way. At each location, the water runs too quickly through the culverts, making them impassable for migrating fish trying to reach spawning grounds.

WSDOT has long recognized the importance of minimizing transportation’s effect on our environment. In 1991, WSDOT gained legislative support to create a program dedicated to correcting barriers that restrict or block salmon and trout access to historic spawning and rearing grounds.

Removing these barriers can improve fish access to miles of upstream and downstream habitat. This is an important component of protecting and restoring fish populations in the Salish Sea.

Once this project is completed in 2021, 6.5 miles of additional spawning habitat will be accessible for migratory salmon, trout, steelhead and other aquatic species.

What to expect
Contractor crews will finalize the design, traffic control plans, and remove and replace these fish barriers. The contractor will decide whether a bridge or a larger culvert is the appropriate solution to improve fish habitat in California Creek. During construction, I-5 lanes will be reduced to a single lane in each direction for approximately one week, but will never close. Both Zell Road and SR 548 may have closures and detours in place at various times throughout this project.


Winter 2019: Awarded project to Kiewit.
Spring/summer 2020: Construction begins.
Fall 2020: Construction complete.


The total estimated project cost is $11.8 million. Funding will come from the Connecting Washington funding package and other state sources.


Tom Pearce

Mikkel Lamay
Project Engineer

A small map of the I-5 and SR 548 Tributaries to California Creek Fish Passage project areas.

A small map of the SR 548 Tributaries to California Creek Fish Passage project area.