BIA recognizes Tulalip road reconstruction 

By Wade Sheldon, Tulalip News

Recently, Tulalip Tribes was awarded Best Road Reconstruction for the pavement rehabilitation on 28th Drive NW, 81st St NE, and Totem Beach Road. The recognition from the Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA) surprised the Tribes’ transportation department team, highlighting the significant strides made by the department since 2019. 

“It was sprung on us; we didn’t even know the award was being submitted,” said Christina Parker, Division Manager. 

Senior Project Manager Ross Bichel, echoing the sentiments of the BIA, remarked, “The BIA was impressed with our innovative approach. Our team’s ability to conceptualize and execute projects has been commendable.” 

The team, comprising Judith Colina, Project Management Coordinator; Nicole Smith, Senior Project Manager; and Doug Bender, Inspector/Observer, has effectively utilized BIA funding to enhance infrastructure and safeguard the environment. Their innovative projects, such as the stormwater filtration system on 81st Drive and the updated storm treatment on Totem Beach Road, have not only improved the quality of life for the community but also demonstrated their unwavering commitment to excellence and community well-being.

“Our journey began in 2019 when the previous transportation manager left,” Parker shared.  “Since then, our team has brought about significant changes in the department. Our accomplishments go beyond winning an award and gaining recognition from the BIA; it’s a testament to the collective effort of our team and a significant achievement for Tulalip.” 

Ross Bichel elaborates, “We took projects where the stormwater and road surfaces were not the best. We were able to, with the help of funding from the B.I.A. and Tulalip, get these projects to a point like 28th Drive, where the stormwater goes through a filtration system that can pull stuff out of the stormwater before it is released into the wetland buffers, and then it filters through vegetation in the wetlands, then off to the salmon streams. This was nice because they never had anything before; water ran up and over the curbs; it was a mess. A lot of what we put in you won’t see; it’s capturing the water before it enters the roadways.”

This award underscores the dedication and innovation of the Tulalip Tribes’ transportation team, whose efforts have improved local infrastructure and set a new standard for environmental stewardship and community safety.