Where is the Tokul Roundabout project located?
The Tokul Roundabout project is located along the Snoqualmie River between Snoqualmie Falls Park and the bridge over the Snoqualmie River on State Route 202 (SR 202).
The Tokul Road Roundabout will improve safety of existing traffic by eliminating two intersections whose existing road geometry does not meet current safety standards. These intersections are located at (1) SR 202 and SE Tokul Road, and (2) SR 202 and SE Mill Pond Road, The intersections are currently extensively utilized by heavy trucks traveling from SR 202 to the sand and gravel mine located in unincorporated King County to the northeast of the former Weyerhaeuser mill site.
What are the benefits of the Tokul Roundabout?
Specific benefits of the Tokul Roundabout include: (1) making it a safer for drivers to access Snoqualmie Falls and Historic Snoqualmie; (2) making it safer for Snoqualmie Falls Park visitors and local pedestrian travelers on foot or bicycle to travel between Snoqualmie Falls Park and Historic Snoqualmie; (3) making it safer for the through traffic along this stretch of SR 202 due to decreased speeds, improved signage, and reduced traffic conflict points; and (4) upgrading the storm drain systems to current storm water quantity and quality standards.
The project also includes installing an illumination system, curb and gutter, pedestrian facilities, roadway paving, channelization, signing, landscaping, irrigation, and offsite wetland mitigation.
Is the Tokul Roundabout also being constructed to accommodate future development of the adjacent land?
Public capital transportation projects are expensive. To maximize public tax dollars, the City of Snoqualmie always ensures that transportation projects are designed to provide safety and traffic circulation for not only existing traffic, but for anticipated future traffic. Increased traffic is expected to be generated by development of property within the vicinity of the project. The Tokul Roundabout is no exception to this practice. It would be irresponsible for the City of Snoqualmie to do otherwise.
The Snoqualmie Tribe has been very vocal in their criticism of this project. Has the City of Snoqualmie addressed their concerns?
The City of Snoqualmie has been consulting with the Snoqualmie Tribe on this project since 2006, when the City of Snoqualmie contracted with a professional archaeologist to perform fieldwork and prepare a Cultural Resources Assessment report on the Tokul Roundabout site.
The purpose of the archaeologist’s work was to determine whether artifacts or other cultural objects might be located on the site of the roundabout. The Snoqualmie Tribe did not comment on the details of the exploratory work to be performed within the roundabout site (shovel probes and excavation at 34 different locations on the project site). Neither did the Snoqualmie Tribe comment on the resulting Assessment Report issued in February 2008. The report concluded that the archaeology work had not identified any significant prehistoric or historic resources, that the existing ground surface was already extensively disturbed, and that the roundabout project was unlikely to significantly affect Snoqualmie Falls or any other historic resources near the project.
The Snoqualmie Tribe did not respond to a December 2008 letter from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers soliciting information from the Snoqualmie Tribe. In 2009, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers then issued the City of Snoqualmie a permit needed for construction of the Tokul Roundabout.
When construction was about to begin in late 2012, the Snoqualmie Tribe commented in writing to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, asking it to suspend the City of Snoqualmie’s previously-granted permit so that additional consultation concerning the Snoqualmie Tribe’s Snoqualmie Falls Traditional Cultural Property (TCP) could occur. (The Snoqualmie Falls TCP is a designated site on the National Register of Historic Places, delineated by Snoqualmie Falls, the plunge pool under Snoqualmie Falls, and the rim around Snoqualmie Falls). A two-year consultation process began. In that process, the Snoqualmie Tribe informed the City of Snoqualmie and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers that the Tokul Roundabout would have an adverse effect on the Snoqualmie Falls TCP, which is one-half mile away and not visible from the roundabout site.
In January 2015, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and the federal Advisory Council on Historic Preservation entered into a Memorandum of Agreement with the City of Snoqualmie. It called for the City of Snoqualmie to hold a meeting with the Snoqualmie Tribe to hear the Tribal Council’s comments on the City’s comprehensive plan; to spend up to $10,000 on public outreach in the form of two Town Hall meetings concerning the importance of Snoqualmie Falls to the Snoqualmie Tribe; to maintain a page on the City’s website addressing the relationship of the Snoqualmie Tribe to Snoqualmie Falls; and to make up to $50,000 available to the Snoqualmie Tribe for the purpose of funding projects related to furthering the study, education, outreach, and/or cultural heritage of the Snoqualmie Falls area. After the MOA was executed, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers released the City’s previously-suspended permit, allowing construction of the Tokul Roundabout to begin.
What is the City of Snoqualmie’s response to the Snoqualmie Tribe’s concern that the project is being constructed on a sacred site?
The City of Snoqualmie respects the Snoqualmie Tribe’s religious practices and beliefs. From the City’s perspective, the Snoqualmie Tribe did not contend during either of the two consultation processes with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers that the roundabout site was a sacred site.
The first time the City if Snoqualmie heard of this statement concerning the roundabout site was when the Snoqualmie Tribe placed an ad in a local paper in July 2015, after construction was well underway. The ad also stated that the Snoqualmie Tribe “cannot stop the construction of the Tokul Roundabout.”
During the consultation process with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, the Snoqualmie Tribe informed them of the Tribe’s desire to have the boundary of the Snoqualmie Falls TCP modified because the Tribe opposed development in the vicinity of Snoqualmie Falls, and an expanded TCP would allow the Tribe to focus on a much larger area than the current TCP boundary allows for.
The Tribe also stated its belief that the roundabout will lead to additional development, which will mean more traffic and more people, and will detract from the overall experience at Snoqualmie Falls. The Tribe also stated that an expanded TCP will provide the Tribe a role in conversations about proposed developments in the vicinity of Snoqualmie Falls.
During the consultation, the Tribe did not tell the City of Snoqualmie (or, to the City’s knowledge, the U.S. Army Corps) that the roundabout location itself was a sacred site. The City is not aware of any information supporting that designation.
The development in the vicinity of Snoqualmie Falls to which the Snoqualmie Tribe’s comments to the U.S. Army Corps referred is the proposed expansion of the Salish Lodge & Spa on 60 acres of property located to the north and east of Snoqualmie Falls, across SR 202 and above the existing Snoqualmie Falls Park parking lot. The Salish Lodge & Spa and the 60 acres are owned by the Muckleshoot Indian Tribe, which purchased the property and rights under a development agreement applicable to it in 2007.
Does the City of Snoqualmie have a response or statement regarding the artifact found at the Tokul Roundabout construction site?
A single cultural artifact was found by the City of Snoqualmie’s outside, professional archaeologist. The archaeologist has been monitoring construction ever since ground disturbing activities began.
Details of the artifact were reviewed by professional archaeologists at the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, the Advisory Council on Historic Preservation, and the State Department of Archaeology and Historic Preservation. It was concluded that this was an isolated find and did not warrant further National Register eligibility, additional consultation or mitigation, or a stoppage of construction.
The archaeologists also reviewed the protocols followed by the City of Snoqualmie’s contractor during construction and stated that the protocols were appropriate. The archaeologists provided a high degree of confidence that other artifacts were not present. The site has been graded down to glacial till, a concrete-like geological formation that, because of its hardness, is considered by archaeologists to be “culturally sterile” and not the source of additional cultural or historic materials.
The City of Snoqualmie repatriated the artifact to the Snoqualmie Tribe in a private ceremony, free of charge or any obligation.
Joan Pliego, PIO
City of Snoqualmie
425-888-1555 ext. 1125