Buxton, Construction, Environment

Mendenhall Creek culvert replacement in Buxton postponed to 2022

West Fork Dairy Creek in Buxton on April 23, 2021, a few feet from where Mendenhall Creek joins the larger Dairy Creek tributary. Photo: Chas Hundley

Construction projects may abound in Buxton and Manning this summer, but area residents can plan for one less after a project under Highway 26 near Fisher Road has been postponed to 2022.

The project to replace a failing culvert where Mendenhall Creek passes under Highway 26 with a bridge was originally scheduled to begin this summer, but not anymore.

“We didn’t get the bids that we thought on the project. We will give it another try later this year in anticipation for construction next year,” said Lou Torres, an Oregon Department of Transportation spokesperson in an email to the Banks Post.

When the project does eventually begin, crews will replace the culvert with a bridge, and reconstruct the creek bed to improve fish migration routes for native species. Mendenhall Creek empties into West Fork Dairy Creek 110 feet past the culvert, according to a 2013 report on the Tualatin River Watershed from the Tualatin River Watershed Council. 

The project is near the intersection of Fisher Road and Highway 26, just west of the Time Gas station in Buxton.

The report noted that Coho salmon were seen in the creek for at least 2.8 miles from the mouth, but that the culvert had a six inch perch creating an obstacle for fish passage into Mendenhall Creek. 

With the culvert gone, fish such as salmon and steelhead will have easier access, passing under a single-span concrete bridge. The project is expected to cost $6.6 million. 

Other culvert projects in the region, however, continue.

Two Washington County projects will see an extended road closure between Buxton and Manning on Pongratz Road this summer.

There, a bridge and a culvert will be replaced. While a firm start date is not yet listed, the road closure is expected to begin this summer, and could extend into the fall, according to an online open house for the project established by Washington County Land Use and Transportation (LUT). Further construction may continue after the road reopens into the winter of 2021. 

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Chas Hundley is the editor of the Banks Post and sister news publications the Gales Creek Journal and the Salmonberry Magazine. He grew up in Gales Creek and has a cat.

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