Levee maintenance to require temporary trail closures
WALLA WALLA, Wash. – The gravel trail on the south side of the federally managed section of the Mill Creek Levee System will be temporarily closed to all visitors starting Monday, Oct. 5, to accommodate levee-maintenance activities, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers officials announced today.
Construction fencing will be placed to alert visitors to the closure and encourage public safety. Workers will be accessing the levee with heavy equipment and vehicles to remove overgrown vegetation which has encroached into the levee’s maintenance zone. Foot bridges across Mill Creek will be intermittently closed as work progresses along the levee.
Once vegetation is removed from the south levee, the contractor will relocate to the north side of Mill Creek to continue levee maintenance work. Visitors are encouraged to use the south levee trail while work occurs on the north levee. Parking areas accessing trails on the south side of Mill Creek are located near the office and at Bennington Lake, both on Reservoir Road.
“During the next few months, visitors should be prepared for intermittent trail closures and detours along the levees,” said Justin Stegall, Mill Creek Project operations manager. “It is important for visitors to avoid the designated work zones -- public safety is our top priority.”
Stegall said, visitors should look for trail-closure updates on information kiosks located at major trailheads and on the Mill Creek Project’s Facebook page www.facebook.com/millcreekdam.
This maintenance is necessary to meet National Levee Safety Program requirements in accordance with Corps headquarters regulations and policies. Non-compliant vegetation on levees blocks visibility for inspections, access for maintenance, hinders flood fighting, and adds uncertainty to structural performance and reliability, which increases risk to the public. The inability to inspect, maintain or flood fight could delay emergency response or contribute to risk of levee failure. Life safety is paramount for the Corps’ operations.
Restoring the federally managed section of the Mill Creek Levee System to meet national safety standards includes removing about 6 acres of woody vegetation from the landward side of the levees. Work will be conducted in two phases. First, encroaching vegetation will be removed from the surface of the levee slopes and 15-feet outward from the levee’s design toe; work will be conducted outside of bird-nesting season. Then, once the levee surface is visible for further inspection to fully identify needed repairs, a separate contract will be competed to conduct phase-2 work -- stumps and roots will be removed, and levee material will be replaced and compacted. After the vegetation-free zone is cleared and levee repairs completed, grasses will be planted on the levees to improve the aesthetics and benefit insects and wildlife.
A contract valued at $88,071.89 was awarded to Molinas Construction Company, of Portland, Oregon, a veteran-owned small business, to conduct the phase-1 vegetation removal work.
Environmental-compliance documents, videos, fact sheet, map and other information about this levee-maintenance project is available on the Corps’website at www.nww.usace.army.mil/Missions/Projects/MillCreekLeveeMaintenance.aspx.