Spacious new bridges have replaced culverts all along the creek, to help the fish navigate underneath
The Bybee-Glenwood Culvert Replacement Project is drawing to a close – to the considerable relief of those who regularly use the Bybee Bridge – and that signals the completion of all the Crystal Springs Creek projects designed to help fish passage up to the creek's headwaters on the Reed College campus.
Along the length of the 2.5-mile-long creek, the Portland Bureau of Environmental Services (BES) oversaw the replacement of nine culverts from 2010 until the end of 2016, according to the Bureau's Environmental Program Coordinator, Ronda Fast.
"It's a lot of work that has been completed, up and down Crystal Springs Creek, in a relatively short amount of time – considering the six week mid-summer [in-water] work windows," Fast reflected. She pointed out to THE BEE some of the features at the Bybee-Glenwood project, next to the Westmoreland fire station, in mid-November.
At the start, BES estimated the cost for simply replacing nine culverts would be upwards of $20 million, Fast revealed. "We were able to add a lot of restoration work, thanks to our grants and partners, including U.S. Army Corps of Engineers – and, with the Westmoreland Park project, Portland Parks & Recreation as well – we did all the work for only $16 million, including major park restoration.
"This means more than half the entire length of the creek was improved by the project, in about six years, which is pretty amazing!"
Along most of the area that was restored, BES removed concrete "curbing" along the creek bank. "We replaced it with native plants, and gave Crystal Springs more room – a buffer – that really helps protect water quality, and provides some shade," Fast said. "This restoration work has positive effects on Johnson Creek, and eventually the Willamette River."
The result: Salmon are coming back and spawning. And all the work is protecting "this cold water source", ensuring that the creek will be protected for the long haul.
By the way, before the end of the year, the traffic cloverleaf connections between S.E. 23rd Avenue and McLoughlin Boulevard at the west side of the Bybee Bridge will finally again be open.
To neighbors and others who use the Bybee Bridge, Fast said, "Thank you all for making this a safe project; we appreciate your patience as we complete this important work!"