County will study flood-prone spots on Wishkah Road

MONTESANO — The Grays Harbor County commissioners on Monday authorized $125,000 to be spent on a consultant who would figure out ways to improve Wishkah Road just outside the Aberdeen city limits.

The money is made possible through a grant authorized by the Chehalis Basin Flood Authority.

Home owner Frank Kirsch has been advocating for the help, bolstered by letters of support from emergency service agencies worried that when the road floods it makes it impossible for ambulances to get through the water. Solutions could include acquiring parcels of land near the river to increase flood plain storage or constructing a 2,000-foot-long sheet pile wall or dike.

The work would be done on mile post 2.2 and mile post 2.7, an area Kirsch says is consistently underwater during heavy rains.

Fire chiefs from Cosmopolis, Hoquiam and Aberdeen, in coordination with Fire District 10 have asked for the funding to improve the roadway.

The contract approved Monday by the county commissioners is with AMEC Environmental & Infrastructure of Bothell and calls for the firm to develop and evaluate alternative designs to reduce or eliminate flooding along the road.

A work plan says the consultant will “gain an understanding of site specific concerns and site issues; understand the frequency and ramifications of the flooding problems; establish appropriate levels of protection for the design alternatives to achieve; establish desired level of design detail to be provided; and establish a timeline for data gathering, performing analyses and reporting results.”

In December, then-Gov, Chris Gregoire included $2.642 million to work on a flood levee on Wishkah Road. The funds would be for final design, permitting, construction, land acquisition and home elevation to help the 60 homes in the area.

Kirsch said on Friday he visited Olympia and asked local legislators if they would help him ensure the funding is retained in their budget proposals.