The Whatcom County Flood Control Zone District (FCZD) is developing conceptual design alternatives to modify the existing Glacier and Gallup Creeks levee system and incorporate habitat improvements using input received at the 2019 community meeting. The FCZD levee and habitat project is being coordinated with the planned Glacier Creek bridge replacement tentatively scheduled for construction in 2026. A second public meeting will occur in 2021 to present draft design alternatives and get input from the community.
The project is located in the community of Glacier on the alluvial fans created by Glacier and Gallup Creeks. Highway 542 and many homes and businesses in the community are at risk of damage during floods. The highway crosses the alluvial fan with two bridge crossings over Glacier and Gallup Creeks. A levee on Glacier Creek and non-engineered berms on Gallup Creek currently provide some protection to the highway and the community. However, the Glacier Creek levee constricts the creek, increasing the energy in the channel which causes bank erosion and damage to the levee. Moreover, the constriction typically leads to upstream sediment build-up which, over time, may reduce the channel capacity and may lead to further erosion or avulsions which is when a creek jumps out of its natural banks.
The highway, levee, and berms have also disrupted natural alluvial fan processes and damaged critical salmon habitats. The Washington State Department of Transportation (WSDOT) is planning to replace the highway bridge over Glacier Creek in 2026 with a new bridge that will be joined with the recently-constructed Gallup Creek Bridge to create a full span bridge across the two creeks and a significant portion of the alluvial fan between them.
The Glacier-Gallup Creeks Alluvial Fan Restoration Project is a collaborative project between the Whatcom County FCZD and WSDOT to improve public safety for the community of Glacier, reduce maintenance for the Highway 542 bridges, and improve salmon habitat and natural alluvial fan processes. The FCZD is currently evaluating the existing levee system on Glacier and Gallup Creeks in light of the planned bridge reconstruction over Glacier Creek and identifying possible levee system modifications.
The project is in the first phase of a multi-phase effort. The first phase will involve community engagement, an existing conditions evaluation of Glacier and Gallup Creeks within the project area, development of concept alternatives for the levee system, an alternatives analysis, and selection of a preferred alternative. Future phases will advance the preferred alternative for the levee system through detailed design and construction. Construction of the new full span bridge across Glacier and Gallup Creeks is currently slated for 2026. Download the project area map.
Community engagement is vital to the success of this project. Community meetings and close coordination with affected landowners will occur throughout the project to convey technical information and receive feedback from the community.
Whatcom County Flood Control Zone District
Deb Johnson, PE
River and Flood Engineer
Whatcom County Public Works - River & Flood Division
(360) 778-6288 or firstname.lastname@example.org