Whiskey Creek project photo

View of the Whiskey Creek culvert to be replaced with a fish-friendly bottomless arch pipe.

State Highway 14 traffic will be reduced to one lane outside Elk City for more than a month to swap out an underlying culvert for a fish-friendly pipe.

The $486,000 Whiskey Creek Project is at milepost 44 being conducted by the Idaho Transportation Department (ITD), in partnership with the U.S. Forest Service (SFS), Nez Perce Tribe and the Bonneville Power Administration (BPA). ITD funds 20 percent with the other agencies picking up the remaining 80 percent.

According to ITD public information officer Megan Sausser, the existing nine-foot-diameter corrugated culvert, installed in 1979, is at the end of its design life, and will be replaced with a bottomless arch pipe. This structure, she explained, will provide an easier passage for fish swimming upstream.

“We’ve done this partnership on Highway 14 at three other creeks: Legget, Moose and Peasley,” Sausser said.

In 2018, the Moose Creek culvert was similarly renovated to eliminate a barrier to migration for spring chinook and steelhead, as well as open access to upstream habitat.

The tribe works with USFS and BPA to identify streams that may have access barriers for fish. As this was within the ITD system, the state agency was brought to the table on this, “and were happy to support this effort,” she said.

A similar project is planned for 2021 on U.S. Highway 12 at Big Smith Creek (milepost 90, near Edgewater Road in Syringa).

As of last week, the roadway was reduced to one lane, which it will remain through the project’s duration into mid-October. Yield signs will be placed at either end of the project, rather than using flaggers or temporary signals.

Clearwater Construction of Boise is conducting the project.

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