WSDOT US 101/SR 109 Fish Barriers Removal Progressive Design-Build

This $120M Washington State Department of Transportation (WSDOT) US 101/SR 109 Grays Harbor/Jefferson/Clallam Fish Barriers Removal Project is a doorway project to a larger program of fish barrier removals in the state of Washington. This Progressive Design-Build Alternative Delivery project will design and correct the first 29 of 413 culverts currently blocking migration passage for salmon and steelhead runs.


This ecologically important project is part of Washington State’s response to the U.S. District Court’s 2013 ruling on infrastructure blockages to the native fish habitats, an issue raised by 21 northwest Washington Tribes. The ruling required the state to open 90% of potential upstream habitats by 2030. WSDOT will replace outdated culverts with concrete box culverts, steel-arched culverts, or bridges to increase the likelihood of salmon and steelhead migration through the channels.

WSDOT, together with the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife, has identified 413 culverts currently blocking critical fish migration. This first Alternative Delivery contract will select a Progressive Design-Build team to correct the first grouping of 29 passage locations. Overall scope includes design and construction of compliant structures, stream and habitat restoration, roadway restoration, complex construction staging, removal of the existing 9 stream crossing structures, and traffic maintenance. Once complete, this project will successfully restore nearly 37 miles of potential habitat across the Olympic Peninsula.

Technical Approach

Our client, Walsh Construction, responded to the Request for Qualifications on this Progressive Design-Build project with Lead Engineer partner Stantec and Mission Critical as Proposal Manager. Our team had previously worked with both firms, but not specifically with Walsh’s Washington-region office. Our services were recommended internally through the firm to assist in expanding their market footprint with WSDOT.

This first phase of the two-stage procurement was a prescriptive Request for Qualifications document that allowed a strictly limited number of pages to encapsulate a comprehensive design and construction approach. In response, our design team began by using collaborative wireframing sessions to gain the team’s buy-in for page and content layout. This effort shortened the duration between kickoff and the team’s first document review and was critical to maximizing the limited page space available.

In parallel, our content team held focus groups and conducted personnel interviews to gain insight from the diverse Walsh/Stantec team. Weekly focus groups included the Walsh and Stantec pursuit teams and various local and regional subject matter experts. Subconsultant firms included many we had worked with on other pursuits, including Axis Environmental, EnviroIssues, and GeoEngineers.

Finally, our writing staff worked on translating details of the team’s technical and delivery approach into straightforward, scorable content. As a result, we fully incorporated the team’s ideas, innovations, betterments, and best practices into a succinct proposal that met tight page limits.

A key element to this proposal’s success was translating Walsh’s national experience to their regional Washington capability. Similarly, there was an emphasis on narrating the team’s collaborative experience and highlighting the individual strengths of the selected personnel to illustrate the team’s ability to meet and exceed WSDOT’s goals for the project.


Mission Critical’s work was essential to connecting the team’s nationwide experience with local expertise and shared personnel experiences. Our daily, collaborative work with the team was a key component in identifying unique strengths and qualities. This effort enabled the Walsh/Stantec team to stand out from the competition and achieve a competitive shortlist position from WSDOT.

Key Information

Alternative Delivery Experts

Great pursuits and winning proposals require amazing ideas, the right people, and the grit to get the job done.

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