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?

In response to community feedback about the tree removal impacts of a temporary access road, the design phase for the creek restoration has been paused while the project team evaluates alternative sediment management options and construction methods in Dead Horse Canyon (Lakeridge park). Option 1, the proposed option with the highest tree removal impacts, is no longer being considered. In 2023, the project team worked with community organizations and outside experts to identify alternative sediment management options that could accomplish the project goals while minimizing impacts to the tree canopy.

A Value Study was conducted in June 2023 as a part of this process, which brought in outside experts to independently review the project and make recommendations about potential alternative design strategies. Two outreach events were held in August 2023 to hear community feedback on the proposed ideas from the Value Study. Thank you to everyone who attended and provided input!

SPU used the Value Study concepts, community feedback, and analysis from our expert design team and Seattle Parks & Recreation to put together three new preliminary design options. To learn more about the new options and the project as a whole, visit our online open house.

SPU is now conducting engineering evaluations on these new preliminary options. This evaluation will be crucial to make an informed decision on the best design to pursue for sediment management and erosion control. Our team is looking at a variety of factors including cost, community impacts, feasibility, constructability, benefits, and long-term operations and maintenance to decide which preliminary option will be selected as our final design.

Once the design team completes their evaluation, SPU and SPR will compare the new options along with old options 2 and 3. We will share the results of this analysis with the community in early 2024. Check back for more information about upcoming opportunities to get engaged and subscribe to the project mailing list to receive email updates.

Taylor Creek Early Work Projects

While the design options for sediment management are being evaluated, SPU has decided to move ahead with design for two less impactful but still very important components of the project. These early work projects are smaller scale and can be constructed independently of the larger creek restoration project.

The Lakeridge Slope Stabilization Project will install underground micropile walls at two locations in the canyon to help stabilize the trail and underlying sewer line from potential landslides. This work is expected to require the removal of 5 trees, and an arborist report is underway to determine any further tree impacts (up to 20 additional trees could be impacted due to potential root zone disruption). Any tree that is removed will be replaced with five new trees. This work is necessary to mitigate the risk of an environmentally harmful and costly sewer line break in the canyon. Please see the project documents for State Environmental Policy Act (SEPA) documents related to this work. The SEPA public comment period closes on February 8, 2024.

The Taylor Creek Outfall Improvements Project will tightline two stormwater outfalls along the east side of the canyon. Currently, these outfalls are discharging stormwater directly onto the canyon walls, causing erosion. This work will fix this problem by allowing stormwater to reach the creek without eroding the canyon. There are no tree removal impacts expected in Dead Horse Canyon with this work.

Construction for both projects is expected to take place during the summer of 2026. More information about the Taylor Creek Early Work Projects is available on our online open house.

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.

Early 2023

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

Mid-to-late 2023

  • Identify, develop, and evaluate additional Sediment Management Options for Dead Horse Canyon
  • Community outreach and engagement
  • Apartment building deconstruction

2024-2025

  • Continue apartment building deconstruction (if necessary)
  • Sediment management strategy decision-making process
  • Continue design (upper project area)
  • Permit applications
  • Finalize Design (entire project)

2026-2028

  • Project advertisement and bid
  • 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.

Public Utilities

Andrew Lee, General Manager and CEO
Address: 700 5th Avenue, Suite 4900, Seattle, WA, 98104
Mailing Address: PO Box 34018, Seattle, WA, 98124-5177
Phone: (206) 684-3000
SPUCustomerService@seattle.gov

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Seattle Public Utilities (SPU) is comprised of three major direct-service providing utilities: the Water Utility, the Drainage and Wastewater Utility, and the Solid Waste Utility.