Walla Walla, WA -- The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ Walla Walla District (Corps) will be performing numerous construction projects at Mill Creek over the summer.
Visitors should be aware that construction will result in a number of closures to different areas at Mill Creek and Bennington Lake and should respect all closed areas to ensure safety.
The first of these projects will involve replacing the division works fish ladder and hand railings at the Division Works (yellow bridge), and repairing the supports of the yellow pedestrian bridge. Contractors will be installing security fencing around June 18 and creating a detour around the paved section of the levee next to the fish ladder. Work is expected to last until the middle of October.
During this time, the Division Works pedestrian bridge and the Mill Creek trail in the vicinity will be closed to public access. A portion of the parking area east of the Mill Creek Project office will also be closed. A temporary detour path will be provided during the closure, however visitors are still encouraged to be aware of and avoid all closed areas to maintain safety.
“The upcoming construction projects are very beneficial to the community. The Corps has worked hard to minimize impacts to visitors by combining three separate construction projects into one. By replacing the fish ladder we are increasing fish passage in Mill Creek for Steelhead, Bull Trout, and Chinook Salmon. The bridge work will improve safety and extend the life of the bridge. The project is the result of many years of planning, collaboration, and design,” Natural Resources Specialist Jeremy Nguyen said.
The work to replace the fish ladder and hand railings amounted to a $1,129,000 contract that was awarded to TDX, which is based out of Anchorage, Alaska.
Additional construction projects taking place at Mill Creek Dam and Bennington Lake over the summer include repaving Reservoir Road, which will result in the reduction of access to the project office and the closing of road access, but not foot traffic, to Bennington Lake; closure of the Mill Creek Project parking lot for maintenance building construction; Mill Creek Dam rehabilitation, which will result in the closure of portions of Rooks Park; and restroom installation at Bennington Lake, which will result in the closure of the Bennington Lake parking lot. Almost every aspect of the Mill Creek Dam and Bennington Lake area will be affected by temporary closures throughout the summer.
“It is really great that we are getting so much work accomplished this summer. The added benefit of getting people back to work in these unprecedented times will have positive impact well beyond the boundaries of Mill Creek Dam and Bennington Lake. Unfortunately the timing of the closures happens to be in the same year as closures due to flooding followed by restrictions from COVID-19. Our biggest mission this summer will be to keep visitors informed of the various closure to reduce frustrations people may be feeling about not being able to visit one of the busiest and appreciated recreation areas in the vicinity,” Nguyen said.
More information about upcoming construction will be released once contracts are finalized. More information can also be found on the Mill Creek Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/millcreekdam/.