U.S. Rep. Rick Larsen joined Snohomish County officials Friday afternoon to discuss how federal investments are helping the county fund the Meadowdale Beach Park and Estuary Restoration Project. The county reopened the beach for public access Jan. 7 after completing significant project milestones in 2022.
The project was initiated by Snohomish County Parks in partnership with Snohomish County Surface Water Management (SWM), BNSF Railway, Tulalip Tribes, state and federal agencies, and the local community. This is the first Puget Sound shoreline restoration project that included enlarging a stream crossing under railroad tracks along the shoreline. The installation of a wide railroad bridge to replace the undersized culverts was critical to Snohomish County achieving its vision to convert park lawn areas to high functioning estuarine habitat to benefit salmon.
“This project did a variety of things,” Larsen said as he toured the site. “It expands habitat, especially for salmon. It expands public use of the beaches. It’s also a project that was done through a partnership, so it’s an example that can be potentially replicated throughout the Puget Sound, not just Snohomish County.”
Public beach access is available through the new accessible pedestrian walkway under the train track bridges. The remaining construction — including installation of utilities, benches and picnic tables, and interpretative signs — will take place in a fenced-off portion of the park and is anticipated to be finished in summer 2023. A ribbon-cutting event is being planned once the entire project is complete.
The project received a $3.7 million Consolidated Rail Infrastructure Safety Improvement (CRISI) grant through the Federal Rail Administration and a $300,000 Coastal and Marine Habitat Restoration grant through the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, along with other federal, regional and state funds.
— Photos and reporting by Julia Wiese