'Salmon subway' finally complete; Oaks Bottom set to reopen next week

KPTV photo.

PORTLAND, OR (KPTV) - It has taken four months, but the Oaks Bottom area in Portland will soon be open for wildlife, fish—and for you—to enjoy.

In July, the city closed a half-mile stretch of the Springwater Corridor. It was for a restoration project to bring salmon back to the area.

The main attraction at Oaks Bottom Wildlife Refuge is something you can’t really see. Crews have been building a 'salmon subway', replacing an old culvert from the 1920s with a new one ten times the size.

It’s set to open on time—next Thursday, Nov. 1.

Experts say the new culvert creates a safe hiding place for young salmon to use. It’s also connected the refuge to the Willamette River for the first time in 100 years.

Experts tell FOX 12 the old construction was too small and turned out to be harmful because it cut off juvenile salmon from using the area.

Crews with Portland’s Bureau of Environmental Services and Parks and Recreation partnered with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to get the job done.

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers split the nearly nine million dollar cost for the upgrades with the city—they paid 65 percent, while the city paid 35 percent.

“At the heart of this project was the building of a new culvert with a natural stream bottom, which is about ten times the size of the old pipe we took out, making it more fish-friendly for our migrating young salmon,” Lance Helwig, chief of the engineering and construction division with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, said.

Crews say the restoration is complete, but there’s still safety work to be done before the reopening next week.

Copyright 2018 KPTV-KPDX Broadcasting Corporation. All rights reserved.

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