Tribal Transportation Funding - Case Study
Jamestown S'Klallam is a rural tribal community located on the upper Olympic Peninsula in Washington State. Without a formal reservation, its services and government are based in the village of Blyn in Clallam County. The location is remote and scenic. It is flanked by the Strait of Juan de Fuca on the north and the Olympic National Forest further south. The nearest cities are Sequim and Port Angeles, six and 17 miles west of the village. There are 574 tribal members. Over half (52 percent) reside in Clallam County. The tribe's economic properties include the Seven Cedars Casino.
Jamestown S'Klallam received federal recognition in 1981. A five-member Tribal Council administers its government. With an Executive Director, the Council oversees and directs a professional workforce of nearly 400. The four major units of government are Administration and Planning, Economic Development, Health and Human Services and Natural Resources.
Jamestown S'Klallam tribal lands and properties comprise 1,041 acres. Most are concentrated in the "Blyn Basin." Here, tribal land abuts Sequim Bay, which forms its north border. The south border ends abruptly on the north shoulder of US101 - a four-lane regional transportation corridor. Constrained by this and natural features such as wetlands, streams and tidal flats, the Tribe has purchased and is developing land on the south side of the US101 corridor.
The Jamestown S'Klallam Tribal Council adopted an Updated Comprehensive Transportation Plan in 2003. The goal of the Plan is to enable the safe and efficient movement of people, goods and services to and from tribal lands and property. The Plan objectives are to:
To accommodate its transportation objectives, Tribal government is actively developing on both sides of the US101 corridor. On the south side, there is a new 10,533 square foot social services building. Plans are underway for additional casino, hotel and recreational services. The Tribe's administrative offices, community centers and new dental clinic are located on the north side.
On the north shoulder of US101 is the Tribe-constructed Sequim Bay Scenic Pullout. Underneath US101, is the Tribe-constructed Pedestrian Tunnel, for passage to its north and south properties. On either side of US101 are two (2) public transit stops; both constructed by the Tribe.
The US101 Sequim Bay Scenic Pullout and Transit Shelter is a vehicular pullout on the north shoulder of US 101, adjacent and immediately west of the Jamestown S'Klallam campus. The facility offers a scenic respite for travelers on US101. It is modern and aesthetically pleasing with paved parking stalls, curbing, striping and guardrails. It contains a public transit stop for the general public, which is recessed with concrete sidewalks, benches and landscaping. Two (2) interpretive kiosks, a hand-carved relief panel and interior totems are artistically integrated into the design.
According to Annette Nesse, Jamestown S'Klallam Director of Administration:
"The original concept was a result of our interest in developing tourism. This was prior to the construction of the Seven Cedars Casino. There were no pull-outs in the vicinity of the tribal campus which includes a magnificent view of Sequim Bay. So we decided to address several issues with the pull-out concept. It is a safe way to access the tribal campus from US101, a safe place to travel off US101 to view Sequim Bay and it allows travelers to access the tribal campus without clogging local roads and tribal parking." Planning, design and construction covered four years, from 1993 to 1996:
Project Funding.The effort was funded with US DOT Federal Highway Administration Coastal Corridor, Public Lands Highway and Scenic Byway - Heritage Corridor grants. The Washington State Department of Transportation (WSDOT) provided "match" with land appraisals. The Clallam Transit and Jefferson Transit authorities participated in the design of the transit shelter and agreed to adjust their system schedules to incorporate the new stop. Several of the Jamestown S'Klallam Tribe's industries were involved in the project.
1993: Project funding - Phase I: FHWA Coastal Corridor Grant
1994: WSDOT land appraisal as match. Facility design and engineering.
1995: Project Funding - Phase II: FHWA Public Lands Highway Grant
1996: Project Funding - Phase III: FHWA National Scenic Byways - Heritage Corridor Grant
IRR Planning and Construction: $1.4 Million
The pedestrian tunnel concept developed during planning for the Tribe's campus expansion in early 2000. According to Annette Nesse, the expansion was constrained by Sequim Bay:
"We maxed out in our ability to expand north of US101 (because of the Sequim Bay coastline) but there was enough property for development south of the freeway. It donned on me that if we expanded south, US101 would bi-sect the campus. The question became - how do we get people back and forth? We considered several options - an overpass, a tunnel, a shuttle and just driving across. We ran those options by the local DOT and asked what was best from their perspective. It was agreed that the most aesthetic and efficient option was the tunnel concept. That's how we got started. It snow balled from there."
Construction began in 2003 at milepost 271.5. The tunnel's south ramp connects to the tribal social services building. It also connects to a new public transit stop. The north portal opens at the east end of the Sequim Bay Scenic Pullout - Transit Stop (discussed above). The tunnel has underground utilities and a drainage system.
Project Funding. The project was funded with IRR planning and construction funds authorized by the US Department of the Interior - Bureau of Indian Affairs. Much of the BIA activity was coordinated through Joe Bonga, P.E.., Area Road Engineer in the BIA Northwest Region Office.
According to Bonga, the Jamestown S'Klallam had a sound proposal and presented a clear and compelling need for the facility. The project was listed in the BIA NW Region (TIP) and resulted in the award of a 638 Contract. "The Tribe was the leader" in the process, he recalled.
Bonga noted WSDOT was initially lukewarm but became a willing partner once it was explained IRR funds would be used for most of the planning, design and construction. The Tribe share would also cover planning, landscaping and aesthetic features.
According to the WSDOT Olympic Region Transportation Planning Manager, Robert "Bob" Jones, the Tribe approached his agency in 2000. He explained WSDOT did not have funds but if resources could be found, "our next question was how can we make it happen?"
Jones recalls the project was "a great experience [that] opened communications and resulted in a first class facility." The project was listed in the Olympic Region Transportation Planning Organization (RTPO) TIP and the STIP.
Discussions within the RTPO resulted in a partnership with the Tribe, Clallam Transit, Jefferson Transit and Clallam County. Together they agreed to link the tribal projectsto another federally-funded regional project - the Olympic Discovery Trail - developing along the County coastline. Coordinating these facilities would create a safe, uninterrupted non-motorized system, from the regional trail and scenic pullout under US101, via the tunnel, to the north and south transit stops.
Jones noted a Jamestown S'Klallam official today holds a leadership position in the Olympic Region RTPO, chairing its policy board.
2000: Tunnel concept developed.
2001: BIA and WSDOT plan review. Developer agreement. 638 Contract design and engineering award.
2002: 638 Contract construction award.
2003: WSDOT Air Space Lease with maintenance, rent and ownership provisions. Pre-construction meeting. Start of construction.
2004: Project substation completed. Tunnel construction completed. Opening ceremony.