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Wahkiakum County Commissioners work on dredging issues


Posted on December 7, 2015

Wahkiakum County commissioners approved transportation plans for 2016 and beyond and worked on other issues when they met Tuesday.

Besides working on road construction and ferry improvement plans, the board discussed progress on placing dredged sand on eroding properties.

The board approved a contract with Coast and Harbor Engineering for engineering design and permitting for several bank nourishment sites on Puget Island.

Residents of certain areas along the shipping channel have sought county help in getting dredged sand placed along their eroding shorelines. The county is planning to develop a 10-year program that would allow sand to be placed in the eroding areas without having to go through the permitting process each time.

The contract is for $62,450.

“The Flood Control Budget has a budget of $40,000 for professional fees,” Public Works Director Chuck Beyer told the board of commissioners. “There is a proposed special levy assessment for the three flood control zones that will generate funds to assist in the cost of professional fees.”

The county has been working with the US Army Corps of Engineers to get the project going, but commissioners expressed disappointment in the pace of progress.

Commissioner Dan Cothren said he had tried unsuccessfully in the past week to get an update from the Corps’s permit coordinator. She has been working on other projects, and the holiday got in the way, he said.

“The costs are tremendous,” Cothren said. “Until we know what’s going on with the Corps and that fiasco, we’ve got to get our ducks in a row.

“It’s going too slowly.”

East Sunny Sands resident J.B. Robinson thanked Cothren for his efforts.

“Dan, you’ve been a considerable champion for us,” he said.

Residents of the Cape Horn/Flandersville area also described erosion problems and urged the board to work for sand placement on their shoreline.

Members of the group said they’d lost lots of shoreline, and the eroding beach was close to houses.

The group also said they’d consulted with Prosecuting Attorney Dan Bigelow about forming an erosion control district like those on Puget Island.

Commissioner Blair Brady suggested the group consult with the Corps before starting the work to form the district.

“The other thing to figure out is if they’re interested in putting sand at Cape Horn,” Brady said. “We’ve got to affirm that they will do that.”

Cothren suggested the property owners write letters to Senators Patty Murray and Maria Cantwell and Congresswoman Jamie Herrera Beutler to inform them of their issues.

Cothren plans to do the same to see if attention from federal representatives can speed up the Corps.

“It’s amazing how much impact that has,” he said.

The 2016 Road Construction Program shows 13 projects.

Projects listed on the 2016 Road Construction Program include Clear Creek Fish Passage, Elochoman Valley Road Realignment at Clear Creek, Columbia Street Overlay, Upper Elochoman Valley Road Culvert replacement, Elochoman Valley Road 2R, Steamboat Slough Road Safety Access Preservation, Oneida Road Culvert replacement, county rural safety improvements, Altoona-Pillar Rock Road culvert replacement, Altoona Borrow Ditch, West Deep River Road repairs, various small construction projects countywide and major culvert replacements countywide.

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