PORTLAND, Ore. -- Right in the middle of Southeast Portland, endangered salmon are making a remarkable comeback and soon they'll be swimming right under roadways.
For drivers met with road closure signs along Southeast 28th Avenue it may seem more like an inconvenience.
But for Reed College and the City of Portland, that marks the final phase of a major project to bring salmon back to the city.
"It's amazing ... a lot of people don’t realize it but we had thousands and thousands of fish in Johnson Creek in the 50s and 60s and they’ve all but disappeared," said Kaitlin Lovell with the City of Portland.
The work is part of the Reed Canyon Restoration project that began 10 years ago. The goal of the project is to restore Crystal Springs, a major tributary to Johnson Creek, to the way it was before human development all-but blocked it.
"What they’ve done here is to try and go back and replicate what it looked like a hundred years ago," said Kevin Myers, Reed College spokesperson.
A fish ladder was actually the first phase of the restoration project. It was built back in 2000. Before that the area was just a huge slab of concrete.
"We basically decommissioned a concrete swimming pool and put the creek back in place where it was once prior to1929," said Zachariah Perry, Canyon restoration project manager.
This month work will wrap up on the final phase to construct a culvert that will allow salmon to pass underneath 28th Avenue.
"We’re actually going to recreate the stream in there so you won't even know it’s a culvert it will look like a natural stream bed," said Lovell.
The work looks to be paying off. Coho, steelhead and lamprey have already returned to the stream.
Much of the funding for the more than $2.5 million was raised through grants donations. Hundreds of volunteers also donated thousands of hours.
The City of Portland has plans to redesign 8 other culverts in the city the help improve salmon passage.