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First court-mandated culvert replacement project takes shape near Mount Vernon

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WSDOT will build a bridge and restore the creek bed to replace the culvert for Lake Creek, allowing fish to continue upstream. (From WSDOT)

MOUNT VERNON, Wash. (AP) — A bridge is taking shape where Highway 9 crosses Lake Creek as work progresses on Washington’s first court-mandated culvert replacement project.

The Skagit Valley Herald reports that Department of Transportation crews started pouring the concrete deck for the bridge last week.

The project is expected to be completed in mid-September.

The $2.5 million Lake Creek project is one of many to come.

A federal court ruled in 2013 that undersized culverts on certain state lands must be fixed by 2030. The ruling was in response to litigation between area tribes and the state.

The order requires the state to fix 825 such culverts that are barriers to fish.

The state plans to spend $87.5 million on 24 culvert removal projects and design another 15 between now and 2017.