Blog
December 6, 2018

Nathan Dasler and Ryan Makie perform a final construction walkthrough with county project manager Steve Johnson and environmental coordinator Trevin Taylor before winter storms return flows to the stream.


The salmon returned to the Hunter Point Road culvert after 100 years away, thanks to the investment of Thurston County, Washington, in rehabilitating the culvert and the stream. See for yourself here!

The culvert was in a deep ravine and had a large drop at the downstream end, which blocked fish passage. Thurston County received state grants for culvert replacements, and Hunter Point Road was their highest-priority fish passage project. The project involved a new bridge and complete stream reconstruction, which was completed in fall 2018. Complications included high road embankments, a single access road (dead end), a stream confluence immediately upstream of the crossing, and the need to provide habitat function to the stream beneath the bridge structure. After consulting with the tribes and the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife, the team elected to include large woody debris in a variety of configurations along with specific stream bed geometries and materials.

During construction, the fish salvage team relocated approximately 500 fish from the downstream reach, indicating the high potential of future use upstream of the project. Otak structural engineers designed an 80-foot-span bridge to replace the existing 4-foot-diameter culvert. Shortly after construction was complete, in November 2018, videos captured the return of spawning salmon--after almost a century-long absence! This was truly a historic moment, and a tribute to the funding agencies and Thurston County for funding this project and hiring Otak to bring it to fruition! 

Otak’s team (Doug Sarkkinen--project manager; Elizabeth Sheehy—structural; and Nathan Dasler, Ryan Makie, Frank Sottosanto, and Mike Rafferty—water resources) is looking forward to seeing continued fish in the system, the new channel settling in, and the vegetation establish.

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November 7, 2018


On a recent Saturday, nearly 20 Otak employees and their friends joined in planting the riparian buffer of the Otak-designed Zackuse Creek Fish Passage and Stream Restoration Project.

The City of Sammamish partnered with King County to upgrade three undersized culvert pipes to fish-passable box culverts in the first 400 feet of stream above the confluence with Lake Sammamish.  Otak designed the third fish-passable culvert, under a major arterial, and realigned and restored over 400 feet of the creek upstream of the culvert and within private property.

Improvements included creating a more sinuous, stable channel with step pools, boulder bands, and woody debris appropriate for Kokanee spawning. Many key stakeholders were involved from the early stages of planning through design and permitting, including assisting during public outreach. This level of public involvement was greatly reflected in the diverse group of 100 people who came to help replant the area near Zackuse Creek, including the Snoqualmie Tribe (who organized the revegetation work party), families from the neighborhood, City staff, and other community members. 

In addition to design, Otak also provided construction support on the project. It was a special opportunity for many on the design team, to put the final touches on a project they had been creating and visualizing through a computer over the previous two years! And such a treat to do so on a sunny day with friends and coworkers! "It felt like Earth Day," said Kaela Mansfield, water resources engineer. "The Snoqualmie Tribe did a great job of advertising the event."

Congratulations to Otak's team: Greg Laird, project manager; Ryan Hawkins, construction management/inspection; Kaela Mansfield and Mike Rafferty, water resources; Eva Ho, Touta Phengsavath, and Dave Cole, civil and utility support; Bob Doherty, culvert/structures; Kevin O'Brien, permitting efforts; Ben Schneider and Lindsay Martin, planting restoration design; and Jeff Gray and Kevin O'Brien, permitting support.

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October 15, 2018

Five Otak employees from our Redmond office (left to right: Kevin Kraxberger, Joe Schober, Ellen Webster, Dave Cole, and Kaela Mansfield) went flyfishing on Saturday, October 13, at Rocky Ford in eastern Washington. The event was sponsored by Flycaster Brewing in Kirkland, Washington. They enjoyed a BBQ lunch and Flycaster beer on a sunny day, fishing for rainbow trout just downstream of the state-run Rocky Ford hatchery, which sits on a natural spring in the Columbia Plateau. Part of the group stayed the night in Ephrata and golfed in the morning at Moses Lake.

At Otak, our employees enjoy spending time together after hours...just as much as we enjoy working together! And yes, they went home with some fish!

Here's Dave Cole in action:

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August 7, 2018

Redmond office picnicThe Otak Redmond Office celebrated summer with a picnic at OO Denny Park on Lake Washington in Kirkland on Saturday.

Our staff, their partners, kids, and dogs had tons of fun in and out of the water. There were tippy canoes and BBQ too. No one got arrested, no one went to the ER, and no one got left behind – so all and all a good day.

View more photos on Otak's Facebook page.

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July 2, 2018

Otak’s Redmond and Everett offices have an active fun committee that hosts engaging, entertaining events that build office camaraderie. It’s always more fun to work with your friends! Here are eight things we’ve learned about Puget Sound employees:


1. They like to learn about different cultures. Redmond employees celebrated the Chinese New Year with a luncheon and calligraphy demonstration. Employees had their names written in Chinese, thanks to Curtis LaPierre, Eva Ho, and Tasha Wang. They had a potluck with green smoothies to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day with Pi Day, and on Cinco de Mayo, they celebrated Mexican culture with an office-wide potluck.

2. They love their dogs even more than your average Otak employee. Yes, the Portland office has a “bring your dog to the office” policy, but they allow only one dog per day! At the second annual Puget Sound camping trip in June, the 18 campers had 5 dogs among them. This ratio proudly exceeds Otak’s minimum factor of 1 dog for every 3 humans.

3. A little rain doesn’t dampen their spirits. Although the weather was mostly beautiful on the camping trip at Baker Lake near the North Cascades National Park, the campers were not deterred by a little shower. They enjoyed hiking, biking, rope swinging, canoeing and kayaking, fishing, swimming, floating on the lake, playing lawn games, hammocking, and a trip to the local Birdsview Brewing Company!  The coworkers and friends are already looking forward to next year.

4. Wearing ugly shoes = bonding. Eighteen Redmond employees and friends bowled the night away at Kenmore Lanes this past March.  The night included some amazing strikes and some unfortunate gutter balls.  In the end, there was plenty of pizza and beer to drown our sorrows or celebrate our successes!

5. The office that bikes together stays together! The Redmond office has an outstanding bike-to-work program and 5 active cyclists. Otak has received three grants from the City of Redmond to purchase seven bicycles, a large storage rack, helmets, and basic bike tools, in addition to funds for commute-trip reduction and motorized vehicle reduction activities. Many employees ride their own bikes to work, and anyone can reserve an Otak bike if they haven’t ridden their bike in. Employees have monthly cycling events for lunch, coffee, ice cream, happy hour, and outdoor concerts at the Chateau St. Michelle winery.

6. They’ll look for any excuse for ice cream! Nine Redmond employees hopped on their bikes on Thursday, June 21, to celebrate the summer solstice at Molly Moon’s Homemade Ice Cream.

7. Whiskey is even better than ice cream. Following up on a wine-tasting event last year, the Redmond Fun Committee hosted a whiskey tasting to showcase the different tastes inherent to different whiskey styles and regions! At least 37 attendees tasted 5 different whiskeys (a bourbon, a Highland Scotch, an Irish, a local rye, and a local single malt) in a pre-poured side-by-side comparison. Pairing food and whiskey may not sound as straightforward as food-pairing wine, but the Redmond office consumed almost 7 pounds of cheese (a half-dozen varieties), which were paired with bread and apples, and of course, various chocolates.

8. Even better when we enjoy projects we’ve designed! In May, employees enjoyed a bike and walking tour of the Redmond Central Connector Trail, which Otak designed and supported during construction. The Redmond office now has seven bikes that employees can rent for bike rides to meetings or for fun outings with coworkers, courtesy of a Go Redmond Grant, and some of the regular bike-muters take this trail to and from work – bringing this regional facility full circle.

Check out our open jobs at Otak to come join in the fun in Redmond. You too could be having fun at work!

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