Lost? Keep moving while Stark Street shuts off
A closure on Stark Street in Troutdale is expected to stretch through October, but don't let that keep your wheels from turning in the meantime.
While workers widen the Beaver Creek fish channel beneath Stark, drivers will want to avoid east and westbound Stark between Southwest 257th Avenue and South Troutdale Road.
A detour marked out by Multnomah County reroutes most drivers south until motorists reach another east-west roadway, Northeast 17th Drive (which eventually becomes Southeast Cochran Road). Those traveling along Stark will want to turn before they hit Mt. Hood Community College.
If you've opted to take a spin on 18 wheels, you're going to need a bigger arterial.
Big rigs should pass by Cochran and keep on trucking until the turn onto Northeast Division Street.
The one route drivers shouldn't take is along Southwest Corbeth Lane. This quiet residential street can't handle heavy traffic, but is suitable for pedestrians and bicycles.
Sheriff's deputies have already been posted on Corbeth to nab non-local motorists.
Mike Pullen, a spokesman for Multnomah County, notes that the long-term goal isn't just to create a clearer passageway for native fish species. The ultimate plan is to add a fourth lane on Stark.
"You have to lengthen the culvert before you can widen the road on top," Pullen explained.
Culvert rebuild shouldhelp calm, cool waters
Biologists studying Beaver Creek in Troutdale say there are at least 16 native and non-native species in the stream: coho salmon, steelhead and rainbow trout, plus crayfish, mosquitofish, sculpin, pumpkinseed, dace and a few minnow varieties.
But if the habitat is already well stocked, why change things?
The current tunnel below Stark Street, known as a box culvert, is only 10 feet wide. That creates an artificial choke point, where blockages are common and water speeds increase.
"In the winter, it just gushes like a fire hose," explains Roy Iwai, Multnomah County's water resource specialist. "The streambed gets eroded because of how much flow is coming through there… and fish can't make it up there, because the water velocity is too fast."
The new arched culvert is wider than the actual waterway, which should calm the water, and the channel uses a cobble and boulder bottom to mimic natural conditions.
Planners hope to rebuild fish pipes below nearby Troutdale and Cochran roads. Another project encourages streamside property owners to root out invasive plants and add leafy species that shade and cool the water. Mt. Hood Community College is planning to direct its stormwater drainage into rain gardens, which should clean the runoff before it reaches the creek.
"There's so much restoration going on in there, but in order for that restoration to work, we've got to do our culvert project," Iwai says. "It's just time to do it."