A five month bridge improvement and pipe replacement project that begins January 6 will benefit an environmentally sensitive tributary of Wilson Bay.
The project includes the removal of two 40-year-old culverts that support a causeway over Thompson School Creek at Sturgeon City. The $490,000 project, primarily funded by a Clean Water State Revolving Fund grant, will also include the installation of a 30-foot steel bridge which is wider than the current causeway.
“Restoring the stream bed back to its natural state was something on our bucket list for a very long time.” said Pat Donnovan-Brandenburg, Jacksonville’s stormwater manager.
The undersized pipes have become clogged with sediment and prevent the creek from connecting to Wilson Bay. As a result, fish are no longer able to travel upstream to spawn and invasive plants have taken over.
“The upper portion above the spit of land has become more of a freshwater area and it’s supposed to be brackish water,” said Donnovan-Brandenburg. “The salinity [of the creek] should fluctuate with the salinity of Wilson Bay, but because of the dam across the creek, it does not. As a result, invasive plant species have taken over and outcompeted the wetland plants that need some sort of salinity gradient which is not present with the current conditions.”
Donnovan-Brandenburg said part of the restoration work includes removing invasive plants and replacing them with native trees, shrubs, and wetland plants. The project will get underway Jan 6 and is expected to last through May.