Public Works Engineering

Global Menu

Public Works Engineering

Assistant County Engineer | Engineering Division Manager
Thomas Weller, P.E.

Bow Hill Road Reconstruction

Concrete -Sauk Valley Road

Farm to Market Road / Josh Wilson Road Intersection Improvements

Fonk Road Emergency Repair

Francis Road Reconstruction: Section 1

Garden of Eden Rd/Willard Creek Culvert

2021 HMA Overlay Project

Josh Wilson Road: Phase 1

North Shore Drive Roadway Repair

Sinclair Dock Replacement

Sinclair Island Marine Access

Upper Finney Creek Bridge
(Seismic Retrofit)

Samish Island Road

Notes from the Samish Island Community Meeting that was held on February 27th, 2023, can be accessed here.


What is the main issue with Samish Island Road? 

This two-lane road is the only point of access for residents living on Samish Island. The road is surrounded by privately-owned dikes, and sections of the dikes are in various stages of disrepair. Especially in light of the most recent King Tide event and the ongoing effects of sea-level rise and climate change, the County recognizes that something must be done. 

Raising the road is one alternative that would be looked at. Other alternatives may include Dike District #5 annexing the private levees, bringing them to standard, and maintaining them long term. The County must first conduct a feasibility and resiliency study to understand how high to raise the roadway before any kind of permanent solution can be pursued. Future weather events, similar to those on December 27, 2022, could result in Samish Island again being cut-off from the mainland. 

What impact did the December 27th, 2022 flood event have on the road?  

Low barometric pressure, King Tide, and heavy rain were the combining factors that resulted in the December 27th flooding event. Flooding of the roadway resulted in the temporary closure of Samish Island Road for approximately 4 hours while Public Works crews and partners responded to the issue. 

View the National Weather Service's presentation on the December 27th, 2022 event for more detailed information.

What is Skagit County doing to address the issue?    

There have been many conversations between the County, the Skagit Land Trust, and the Dike District regarding next steps. There have been discussions about what would be needed for the Dike District to take over long-term maintenance of the dikes. It comes down to securing the dikes—something that will require adequate time, resources, information, and cooperation between partners.

There are limited resources available to fix the issue on Samish Island Road. The County recognizes that the road will most likely need to be raised but more information is needed, and the County will need more resources to do this.

Of those who live in unincorporated Skagit County, 6 cents of every dollar paid in property taxes goes to the road fund. County overseas 800 miles of roads as well as bridges, and this includes routine maintenance. This stretches the Road Fund, making funding very limited.

The County does not have an identified funding source for the study or the constructed solution. This is a low AADT (Annual Average Daily Traffic) count of 1300—one factor that makes it difficult to apply for and secure state and federal transportation grant funding. 

The County has submitted a 2023 House Transportation Budget Request of $350,000 to Representative Lekanoff to fund a resiliency study for Samish Island Road. 

What would be achieved by conducting a resiliency study? 

If awarded this funding, it would cover scientific modeling needed to evaluate the resiliency of Samish Island Road (its sole road access connecting Samish Island to the mainland) in response to sea-level rise, and our changing climate patterns. Furthermore, this feasibility study will also provide proposed options and associate preliminary cost estimates for retrofits options or alternatives to increase Samish Island Road resiliency rating, and to assist this community to be more robust.

What is the county's role for the emergency management of private dikes? 

During emergency events like coastal flooding, Skagit County Public Works coordinates closely with the Department of Emergency Management (DEM) to respond to community and Dike District needs. The County frequently assists Dike Districts in fulfilling resource requests that are submitted through the Emergency Operation Center (EOC) under DEM. DEM staff members serve as duty officers 24/7, 365 days a year. The duty officer monitors potential situations and incidents that might present a hazard to Skagit County. Depending on the nature and magnitude of the incident, the duty officer initiates the process to activate the Skagit County EOC. The EOC is a physical location where county staff and emergency responders assemble to coordinate the emergency response, including fulfilling resource requests from on-scene responders. 

In addition to responding to resource requests from the EOC, our Public Works Operations Division closely monitors the situation and the impacts on road safety. Depending on the conditions of the event, our Operations Division will post “water over roadway” signs and close roads to travel if conditions are determined to be unsafe. After last December’s event, our DEM coordinated with Fire District #5 on Samish Island to ensure that we have signs available on the island that can be posted by the Fire Department if flooding prevents our crews from getting to the other side. Once the waters recede, our Operations Division quickly evaluates the damage to the road and makes any necessary repairs that are needed to safely and efficiently reopen the road. 

Dike Districts are Special Purpose Districts created with the primary purpose to manage dikes and levees, are independent of the County legislative body, and have the authority to collect assessments for the purpose of flood protection. We are working closely with Dike District #5 to evaluate the private dikes near Samish Island to assist in providing survey information that is necessary for the District to develop an accurate cost estimate needed to bring the dikes to a standard that they can be annexed and maintained by Dike District #5. 

The Samish Island dikes are an excellent example of why it is important that the acquisition of private levees must be coordinated with the diking districts in advance, with a plan and appropriate funding in place to address structural issues before buying the property. That said, Skagit County is working in good faith with Dike District #5, the Skagit Land Trust, and the Samish Island community to assist with both a short-term and long-term solution. 

What past work has the county done on the Alice Bay dike? 

The County has a history of supporting emergency repairs to the private sea dikes in the vicinity of Samish Island Road. The most recent support was in the early 2000s (2000-2005) under the authority of official emergency declarations (R20030027 & 17790). The bulk of emergency work appears to have been focused on the Padilla Bay dike rather than the Alice Bay dike. It is unclear at this time how much if any County support was directed to the Eastern Alice Bay Dike. 

Skagit County acknowledges that historic emergency work was performed on the private Samish Island Dikes. However, the appropriate entity with authority and expertise to perform emergency work is Dike District #5. We are diligently working with the District to establish a path forward to bring the private dikes on Alice Bay to a standard that they are comfortable with annexing and maintaining into the future. 

In the event of another flood like December 27th, 2022, what type of help can the County provide? 

Skagit County Public Works and the Department of Emergency Management closely monitor weather events and King Tide predictions. In the case of the unique event on December 27, 2022, the actual tide level was nearly two feet higher than what NOAA had originally forecasted. This event caused unforeseen impacts on communities throughout Puget Sound. 

In future events, Skagit County Public Works will continue to monitor weather forecasts and warnings issued by NOAA and prepare to respond accordingly. Depending on the nature and magnitude of the event, DEM may activate the Emergency Operation Center and coordinate the County’s response and community notification using the established Incident Command System. 

In smaller events that do not result in the activation of the County’s Emergency Operation Center, our Public Works Operation Division will communicate directly with the Fire District #5 station on Samish Island, Dike District #5, and the Samish Island Community. In addition, Public Works will evaluate the damage done to our road network and make emergency repairs as needed based on the scope of the damage, resources available, and permitting requirements. 

As mentioned previously, road closure signage have been provided to Fire District #5 on Samish Island and staged on the island side of the diked entrance. If safety conditions exist that justify closing the road, we will promptly communicate with the Fire District to ensure that signs are posted on the island side of the water in addition to signs posted by the County on the Southern side of the flooded road. DEM coordinates with Samish Island Fire District to provide sand and sandbags for the island (more information below). 

What type of involvement was there during the December 27th, 2022 flood? 

Although our Public Works crews were prepared for the King Tide series in late December 2022, the magnitude of the event on the 27th was unexpected, not forecasted, and no warnings were received by the National Weather Service that accurately indicated the severity of the event. 

Regardless, Skagit County Operations staff were ready and promptly responded to ensure that signage was placed warning drivers approaching Samish Island of the flooding waters and related road closure. Samish Island Road was closed to vehicle traffic for approximately 4 hours and notification was posted on the County website. The flood damage that occurred on Dec 27 caused minor shoulder damage, which our road maintenance crew promptly repaired with additional gravel. 

In coordination with Public Works and the Samish Fire District DEM had pre-staged sand and sandbags at the east end of Blue Heron Lane at the end of November. On December 27th, a DEM duty officer reached out to the Samish Fire District who replied they had enough sand for now. Later in the day the Fire District reported that they were going through the sand fast and requested additional loads of sand and sandbags. PW delivered the sand and sandbags by noon on the 28th as well as several more loads of sand and sandbags throughout the next week into January. 

In addition, DEM received an update after 3:00pm on the 27th from the National Weather Service regarding minor coastal flooding. DEM duty officers sent out the update to 1,157 subscribers to the Skagit County Emergency Information Email List Service. You may sign up on the DEM webpage at:

Information was also shared via social media and a press release published on December 27th which can be accessed here:

For more information, contact:
Public Works

Contact Public Works Engineering

Assistant County Engineer | Engineering Division Manager
Thomas Weller, P.E.

1800 Continental Place
Mount Vernon, WA 98273
Phone: (360) 416-1400
Fax: (360) 416-1405