Major accomplishment greatly improves salmon habitat in Crystal Springs Creek


Union Pacific Railroad, City of Portland, Portland-Milwaukie Light Rail Transit Project work together to replace critical fish culvert

New Crystal Springs Creek culvert under UP railroad tracks 2012

New fish-friendly culvert now flows under the UP railroad tracks and site of future Portland-Milwaukie light rail line

Salmon habitat in Crystal Springs Creek has been greatly improved because of efforts by the Union Pacific Railroad (UPRR), the City of Portland and the Portland-Milwaukie Light Rail Transit Project (PMLR). These project partners today celebrated a major accomplishment – a critical culvert under active UPRR tracks and the future PMLR tracks was replaced with one that creates a healthy passage way for fish.

50-foot section of UP railroad track removed during construction
New fish culvert being placed under UP railroad tracks

TriMet redesigned the PMLR project to create the opportunity to replace the culvert that had been inaccessible because it ran under active railroad tracks near the Eastmoreland neighborhood. The
project required removing a 50-foot section of track to remove the old culvert and put the new one in. UPRR had to shift freight operations during two weekends for the construction. Partners UPRR, TriMet, the Portland Bureau of Environmental Services and the East Multnomah Soil & Water Conservation District funded the replacement project. The new culvert is 6’ x 10’ and 147 feet long.

The culvert replacement is part of a Portland Bureau of Environmental Services (BES) project to replace nine culverts in total along the 2.7-mile spring-fed creek in the Eastmoreland, Reed, and Sellwood neighborhoods.  Five will have been completed by the end of this summer.

“Crystal Springs Creek has some of the best salmon habitat in Portland but culverts have prevented fish from using it,” said Portland City Commissioner Dan Saltzman. “Replacing the culvert under the railroad tracks is an important part of the city’s efforts to restore habitat for threatened coho and Chinook salmon and steelhead trout.”

“Union Pacific collaborates often with state and local agencies in Oregon that make the communities in the state some of the most livable in the U.S.,” said Brock Nelson, public affairs director, Union Pacific Railroad. “Our efforts related to Crystal Springs Creek are part of our ongoing commitment to the communities where we operate trains.”

The old culvert system restricted fish passage, caused flooding and led to a rise in creek water temperatures that was harmful to juvenile salmon. The new fish-friendly culverts provide a healthy habitat for the salmon and access to the full length of the creek. The replacement of all nine culverts is scheduled to be complete in 2014.

The culvert replacement is just one of several PMLR project elements that improve the environment, enhance habitat or engage in sustainable practices.

“We’re pleased to have worked with our partners to improve this important fish habitat for the community as we expand our transit system. It’s a great outcome,” said TriMet General Manager Neil McFarlane.

About UPRR

One of America’s iconic companies, Union Pacific celebrates its 150th anniversary in 2012. Abraham Lincoln signed the Pacific Railway Act of July 1, 1862, creating the original Union Pacific. Today, Union Pacific Railroad is the principal operating company of Union Pacific Corporation (NYSE: UNP), linking 23 states in the western two-thirds of the country by rail and providing freight solutions and logistics expertise to the global supply chain. From 2000 through 2011, Union Pacific spent more than $31 billion on its network and operations, making needed investments in America’s infrastructure and enhancing its ability to provide safe, reliable, fuel-efficient and environmentally responsible freight transportation. Union Pacific’s diversified business mix includes Agricultural Products, Automotive, Chemicals, Coal, Industrial Products and Intermodal. The railroad serves many of the fastest-growing U.S. population centers and emphasizes excellent customer service. Union Pacific operates competitive routes from all major West Coast and Gulf Coast ports to eastern gateways, connects with Canada’s rail systems and is the only railroad serving all six major Mexico gateways.

About Environmental Services

The Bureau of Environmental Services provides Portland residents and businesses with programs to protect water quality and public health, including wastewater collection and treatment, sewer construction and maintenance, stormwater management, and stream and watershed restoration.

About the Portland-Milwaukie Light Rail Transit Project

The 7.3-mile project is the region’s sixth MAX construction project to be built and extends from the terminus of the MAX Green and Yellow lines at Portland State University in Downtown Portland to South Waterfront, SE Portland, Milwaukie and North Clackamas County. About the project:

  • 7.3 miles
  • 10 stations
  • The first of its kind multi-modal bridge over the Willamette River that will carry light rail, buses, bikes, pedestrians and a future Portland Streetcar extension, but no private vehicles.
  • Opens in September 2015
  • Expands the MAX system to 60 miles and 97 stations

Project partners

Clackamas County, Metro, City of Milwaukie, Multnomah County, City of Oregon City, Oregon Department of Transportation, City of Portland, Portland Development Commission and TriMet.

For more information about the project, visit