Taylor Creek Restoration Project

Photo of Lower Taylor Creek flowing into Lake Washington.

Project Description

Seattle Public Utilities (SPU) is planning improvements to Taylor Creek, located near the south end of Lake Washington in southeast Seattle. This project seeks to address localized flooding and sediment deposition by improving drainage infrastructure, removing fish passage barriers and improving natural habitat, restoring the natural drainage system of Taylor Creek and its watershed, and increasing equitable community access to open space in Southeast Seattle.

SPU purchased properties at the lower reaches of Taylor Creek, which will allow SPU to increase the quality and size of habitat along Taylor Creek and Lake Washington shoreline, particularly for threatened juvenile Chinook salmon. SPU proposes to replace the undersized, deteriorating Rainier Ave S culvert with a new fish passable culvert. Upon completion, this project would restore and improve approximately 3,300 feet of Taylor Creek and will increase publicly accessible open park space in southeast Seattle. 

Location

This project stretches from the shoreline of Lake Washington, south across Rainier Avenue S, and into Lakeridge Park (also known as Dead Horse Canyon) at the south end.

What's Happening Now?

The project is currently pausing the design and permitting phase to evaluate various sediment management and creek restoration strategies in Dead Horse Canyon (Lakeridge park), including the use of large woody materials to capture sediment, rebuild the creek channel, and reduce erosion along the creek.

SPU has shared with the community three potential options for placement of large wood in Taylor Creek. Two of the options include a temporary access road along the trail in the canyon. In response to community feedback about the proposed design and the tree removal impacts of a temporary access road, the project team is working with community organizations to identify alternative sediment management options that accomplish the project goals while requiring less or no tree removal. Furthermore, Option 1, the proposed option with the highest tree removal impacts, is no longer being considered. To learn more about the proposed options and the project as a whole, visit our online open house.

No further decisions about the canyon project design or alternative options have been made yet, and there will be more opportunities for the community to provide input on the design and potential alternatives soon. Check back for more information about upcoming opportunities to get engaged and subscribe to the project mailing list to receive email updates.

Community Benefits

The Taylor Creek Restoration project would:

  • Increase the quantity and quality of refuge habitat for juvenile salmon in the lower channel and delta
  • Replace the culvert under Rainier Ave S with a larger bridge to accommodate more flows
  • Reduce erosion in Dead Horse Canyon and reduce sediment input to the lower reaches of Taylor Creek coming from the canyon
  • Improve fish passage by removing barriers
  • Provide public access to the new natural area north of Rainier Ave S once construction is complete
  • Construct road and pedestrian safety improvements along Rainier Ave S in coordination with the Seattle Department of Transportation

Community Engagement

Taylor Creek Community Meeting

SPU is committed to providing timely information and updates on project activities. Updates may be available in multiple formats: the website, emails, drop-in sessions, briefings, and/or public meetings. There will be several opportunities for the public to engage and provide feedback throughout the project, so check back for more information and sign up for the project mailing list to hear about the latest events and updates.

2022

  • Community outreach and engagement
  • Identify and develop additional Sediment Management Options for Dead Horse Canyon

2023

  • Identify, develop and evaluate additional Sediment Management Options for Dead Horse Canyon
  • Community outreach and engagement
  • Sediment management strategy decision making process
  • Continue design (Dead Horse Canyon)

2024-2025

  • Finalize Design (entire project)
  • Permit applications
  • Project advertisement and bid

2025-2028

  • Construction

Taylor Creek originates from its headwater wetland in unincorporated King County near Renton Ave S. The creek passes through a natural area known as Dead Horse Canyon within Lakeridge Park. It then passes through residential yards and an aging culvert under Rainier Ave S before discharging into Lake Washington. The culvert under Rainier Ave S, along with other barriers in the creek, prevents fish passage to good quality habitat in Dead Horse Canyon.

Between 2010 and 2012, SPU began developing stream improvement concepts and discussing those concepts with the community. Questions were raised during this early engagement about how the site should be used in the future and the potential for negative neighborhood impacts if the site became publicly accessible. In 2013, SPU, in partnership with Seattle Parks and Recreation (Parks), undertook a collaborative process with the community to evaluate future public access at the site.

In January 2015, SPU approved public access to the Lower Taylor Creek site, and in 2016 SPU purchased two additional properties adjacent to the creek alignment, providing more flexibility for the design process and resulting in a final design that minimizes impact to neighbors. Project design began in 2017.

In 2020, SPU expanded the project scope to address erosion and manage sediment in the Dead Horse Canyon, in order to find and implement a long-lasting sediment management solution.

In fall 2018, Brooklyn artist Olalekan Jeyfious was selected by the Office of Arts & Culture to create wayfinding artwork for the project site. Olelakan visited the Taylor Creek site and met with community members from Kandelia (formerly Vietnamese Friendship Association), Rainier Beach Community Action Coalition, and the East African Community Service Organization to gather their ideas and input. In 2019, Lek/Olalekan presented his initial ideas to the Public Arts Advisory Committee and they were approved to move into design.