The Washington State Department of Natural Resources is requesting $5.5 million from the state Legislature for road improvements near the Washington State Fire Training Academy.
The funding would go toward improvements to and around Grouse Ridge Road, built in the 1940s east of North Bend. The project aims to upgrade 2.5 miles of the road while replacing nine undersized culverts and three fish passage barriers. Seven cross drains also will be replaced and two more cross drains will be added to control sediment entering the south fork of the Snoqualmie River. Preventing sediment from entering the river will keep the water clear and preserve the habitat for fish.
Kenny Ocker, communications manager for DNR, said the work will contribute to environmental benefits while also improving access for vehicles.
“The cross drains will keep the road from draining directly into the watershed, which should filter out pollutants naturally before they get into the streams,” Ocker said.
The road provides access from North Bend to the west and the Fire Training Academy to the east. Because of the age of the road, it had fallen behind the standards of the DNR’s road maintenance and abandonment planning standards and the forest practices and clean water standards.
If funding is granted during this legislative session, construction will begin in April 2020. The project, Ocker said, would clear up more than a mile of new fish habitat in the south fork of the Snoqualmie River by its projected completion date of October 2020.
Grouse Ridge Road is also the only way to access the Fire Training Academy and is an access point to 900 acres of state Natural Resource Conservation Area lands and 400 acres of state trust lands. DNR will work with the Washington State Patrol, the agency that operates the Fire Training Academy, to implement the improvement plan.