POULSBO — Melinda Weer of Storhoff Road is surprised to see her culvert back on the City of Poulsbo's agenda.
At Wednesday's meeting, the City Council approved a contract with engineering firm Parametrix to update the preliminary design of the replacement of two culverts on Bjorgen Creek, which runs along Storhoff Road just south of Noll Road. One of these culverts washed out in November, taking Weer's driveway with it.
The remaining culvert, just south of the Weer property, is not lined up with the stream bed and presents a fish passage barrier.
The project would replace the culverts with new three-sided bottomless box culverts, restore the stream and construct a new roadway embankment on Storhoff Road — a new driveway for the Weers.
The council approved the contract, which will update the maps, city right-of-way needs, and identify failure potential, which will be used to substantiate grant requests.
Andrzej Kasiniak, assistant public works director, told the council the new culverts will need to be 15 feet wide and 10 feet tall. The design phase of the project costs about $40,000; Kasiniak said the entire project will cost around $500,000. He expects to apply for fish restoration project grants.
Mayor Becky Erickson said this project, like many in the city, is a "developer driven process." While the culverts have been on the city's agenda for many years, the replacement of the culverts is tied to utility installation for a proposed neighborhood off Noll Road, and the developer must first complete the utility work.
The development, called Mountain Aire, is proposed by Quadrant Homes. Representatives will hold a neighborhood meeting Wednesday, 6 p.m., at the Poulsbo Fire Station on Liberty Way.
The city gained an easement on the Weer property three years ago for utility installation. Weer said the culvert has been the city's responsibility to replace even before it washed out; Erickson said the city is not liable for the culvert until a sewer line is installed across the property.
Since February, Weer has been considering suing the city for breach of contract. On Thursday, she said she is consulting with her lawyer but would like an emergency solution now. She and her family are using a temporary footbridge to get from their house to the other side of the creek, to get to their cars and the road. Emergency vehicles cannot access the Weers’ property, and firefighters would have to extend hoses to the house from a water tender on the street.
"We need something done for our safety in the meantime," Weer said. "I'll believe it when I see [the culvert replaced], and when I do see it I'll be very grateful and pleasantly surprised.”