The Washington State Department of Transportation has been recognized for its successes in sustainable transportation and environmental protection by the U.S Department of Transportation.
In October 2009, a landslide massive enough to fill more than 1 million Olympic-sized swimming pools buried State Route 410 and dammed the Naches River. The slide cut off access for local residents and travelers, and the redirected river flooded the Nile Valley. WSDOT helped build a temporary bypass road, rerout the river into a new channel, and save more than 500 Chinook, coho and steelhead salmon. And all in less than eight weeks.
The U.S. DOT awarded the project the 2011 Exemplary Human Environment Initiative award and the Exemplary Ecosystem Initiative award – one of only two projects nationwide to receive both awards.
WSDOT responded to an emergency of a different nature near the town of Blyn in Clallam County. Two centuries of development, logging, roads, railroads, dredging, filling and diking in Blyn damaged the Jimmycomelately ecosystem so badly that only seven salmon returned to spawn in 1999.
Alongside local efforts to revive the dying ecosystem, WSDOT partnered with the community to build a new bridge on U.S. 101. The bridge not only improved the migration of fish and wildlife and reduced flooding, but WSDOT also helped restore the nearby estuary.
The U.S. DOT awarded this project with the 2011 Exemplary Ecosystem Initiative award.