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Donkey Creek Daylighting Project

Gig Harbor, Wash. May 10, 2011 –The Gig Harbor City Council is requesting public input on the Donkey Creek Day-lighting and Transportation Project.  The city will host an open house with information on the project at 5:00 pm on May 23rd followed by a Public Hearing during the City Council meeting at 5:30 pm.

Funding is in place and a design team has created four day-lighting design options for consideration: 1.) Pedestrian Bridge 2.) 10-ft Jack & Bore 3.) 22-ft Culvert, and 4.) Pocket Park Day-lighting. 

The 4th option, the Pocket Park Day-lighting, is the recommendation of the Mayor, City staff and the engineering team of Murray, Smith and Associates (MSA) following 6 months of exploration, design development, cost analysis, agency workshops, on-site consultation and ground-truthing. This option meets each of the federal and state funding source requirements, can be approved by the permit agencies, and can be constructed within the available budget. 

MSA presented their recommendation to City Council members on May 9th as a “puzzle” of independent elements.  The Transportation and Safety element will improve the corner of Harborview and North Harborview at the new Harbor History Museum entrance by moving the existing 3-way stop further up to the Austin Street corner.  Direct access to the Finholm District will be maintained by reconfiguring North Harborview as a one-way.  Austin Estuary will also become a one-way making Donkey Creek Park, in essence, a giant “round-about” with improved pedestrian safety and traffic flowsFish Habitat will be significantly improved with restoration of the estuary and Recreational Improvements include a new pocket park, viewing platforms, pedestrian trails, interpretive signage and a kayak landing at Austin Estuary Park.

The vision to restore the estuary and day-light the Creek began in 2001.  Historic photos reveal that the creek that now flows under North Harborview Drive was originally crossed by the Donkey Creek Bridge.  Until the early 1950’s, the entire Museum site went underwater daily with each tide.   The dirt fill is said to have been trucked-in when the Thriftway Shopping Center (aka QFC) was developed.  Removal of the fill or “day-lighting” the conservation area that was purchased by the City from the Museum in 2006, will provide improved habitat for marine life and spawning salmon.

This informational meeting and public hearing will provide a forum for important feed-back on the community’s expectations.  Once the preferred design is approved, final plans will follow with work expected to begin in 2012.  For more information contact Emily Appleton, Senior Engineer, at (253) 853-7620. 



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