By Todd Wels

Triplicate staff writer

A buckled aluminum plate has brought the countys Jordan Creek Fisheries Protection Project to a halt.

The $256,000 project, which was designed to replace an antiquated culvert on Parkway drive with a newer, more fish-friendly one, was anticipated to be completed by Nov. 1, but officials say construction may have to continue after that date.

Beginning last Thursday evening, and continuing through Friday morning, the plate gave way, bringing work on the project to a halt.

The design did not perform as well as indicated by the consulting engineer, said Ernie Perry, Director of Community Development for Del Norte County.

On Tuesday, Perry was forced to bring an emergency request before the Del Norte County Board of Supervisors to increase funding for the project by as much as $15,000 to counter the problem that caused the plate to buckle in the first place.

The board voted 4-0 to grant up to $15,000 more for the project after Perry assured them that there was no fault on the part of the contractor installing the culvert, Tidewater Construction of Brookings, Ore.

I did not observe any fault on the part of the contractor, Perry said.

He added that the consulting engineer for the project, Leonard Osborne, was consulted about the plates failure, and was cooperative with county officials.

Perry was quick to note passers-by would likely be unable to even see the damage that had been done to the culvert.

Its not a life-threatening issue, he said. Its a long-term maintenance issue.

Since the start of the project, many local residents and businesses have complained about the road closure caused by the project, with merchant Bunny Benson claiming business has declined at her store by approximately 90 percent.

Perry said he empathizes with those businesses, and that the county is doing its best to get the road opened by the Nov. 1 deadline.

The good news is that were waiting to hear from the consulting engineer regarding two plans to strengthen the culverts aluminum plates, Perry said. If the consulting engineer responds promptly, it is likely that the road will be opened back up by Nov. 1, despite the two-day delay.

And if not?

If nots are not acceptable, Perry said.

During the deliberations of the Board of Supervisors, the possibility of launching a lawsuit against one or more of the parties involved in the design of the culvert was discussed. That led Supervisor David Finigan to suggest a possible alternative for use if the road continues to be closed.

If someone else is footing the bill, maybe they can cut a road too, he said.