The fish of Neahkahnie Creek are currently receiving a big upgrade in the form of a 200 foot long tunnel being built underneath Highway 101 in Manzanita.
By Jordan Wolfe
The project, which began construction in early 2015, is replacing a failing culvert for the fish and has been designed and is being built by LRL Construction in Tillamook under project manager Justin Laviolette, according to owner Dan Laviolette.
Laviolette says each piece of the tunnel weighs around 57,000 pounds, is moved with a 350 ton crane and is engineered to have beveled female and male ends that interlock. The tunnel is more than doubling the size of the old, six foot diameter culvert.
According to ODOT’s website, “Neahkahnie Creek is listed on the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife as the highest priority for fish passage due to excellent spawning habitat within the upper reaches of the existing lake.”
Laviolette says he and his team have taken every precaution to not endanger or pollute the habitat of the fish, citing the difficulty of protecting the area during winter and the rains.
Loviolette says that to help stabilize the ground while they worked, they used shotcrete on sections. “You can see, it’s just sand. We had to be careful to not lose the road.”
The website for LRL states that this project will improve fish habitat, and will use a combination of driven pipe canopy shoring and conventional mining techniques to complete the project.
“Building a bridge was the other option,” Laviolette says. “We’ve been building tunnels like this from the east to west coasts. We do this same type of work for railroads.”
He says that the tunnel also has the added advantage of having an active construction area without disrupting Highway 101 or the surrounding community.
Laviolette says, “it’s the beauty of this design.”