The New Year is bringing big changes to the landscape at Dworshak Fish Hatchery. Our hatchery access bridge is currently being removed, piece by piece and will be replaced by an at-grade crossing.
The bridge was built in 1968 and crosses over railroad tracks that run between the hatchery and Hwy 7. In 2011, the weight capacity for the bridge was downgraded from 88,000 pounds to 76,000 pounds.
Because of the weight restriction we could no longer carry a fully loaded fish truck over the bridge. In order to truck our steelhead smolts we had to reduce the load by 1/3, de-water the truck to cross the bridge, and re-water the truck after crossing the bridge. This tripled the number of outplanting trips and extended our release time by about 10 days. The de-watering and re-watering processes also put the fish under additional stress.
We were also no longer able to accept feed deliveries onto the Hatchery. Feed trucks had to off load in our visitor lot and hatchery staff would then bring pallets of feed over the bridge with our boom truck and forklifts.
The Army Corps of Engineers opted to put in an at-grade crossing rather than rebuild the bridge. The cost of installation and maintenance of the crossing will be far less than retrofitting and maintaining the old bridge.
Text and Photos by Angela Feldmann
Video by Adam Izbicki