Anyone who ventures away from Interstate 90 in central and eastern Washington knows rest areas are as rare as a $3 bill and a lot more useful.
But the Colville Confederated Tribes and the Town of Nespelem have done something about that.
The tribal government and the town of Nespelem will dedicate a new half-million-dollar Chief Joseph Rest Area on April 2. The facility is on state Route 155 at Nespelem, where the renowned Chief Joseph of the Nez Perce is buried.
The next nearest roadside rest area is 56 miles away on U.S. Highway 2, about 13 miles west of Davenport.
The Chief Joseph Rest Area has been nominated for a state Department of Transportation Award of Excellence.
“It’s very unique, and they did a wonderful job on the monument,” said Paul Mahre, the Wenatchee region local programs engineer who nominated the project. “It’s just really appealing to the eye.”
Tribal planner Virgil Marchand said local residents raised $112,000 for the Nespelem rest stop when a $377,000 state Department of Transportation grant proved inadequate. By the time the grant money was received in 2008, high fuel prices had driven up the cost of construction materials.
Marchand said tribal officials, who administered the grant on behalf of the town, used local resources to cover paving, curbing, an interpretive sign and boulder monuments for each of the Colville Reservation’s 12 tribes.
The tribal Telecommunications Program donated a security system, and Marchand made the steel sculptures.
The Chief Joseph Rest Area will be owned and operated by the town of Nespelem, which is about 2½ miles mile north of the tribal headquarters.
A free public luncheon will follow Friday’s dedication ceremony at noon.