Army Corps of Engineers awards construction contract for Ballinger Park restoration

A drone photo of Ballinger Park in November 2022. (Images courtesy Army Corps of Engineers)
A rendering of what the park will look like after restoration.

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) has awarded a contract to Federal Way-based construction firm to restore wetlands, riparian corridors, and fish and wildlife habitat at Mountlake Terrace’s Ballinger Park.

Tunista Construction, LLC received the contract award for its $5.498 million bid. The project will create and preserve critical habitat for species of concern — for example, amphibians — and provide significant habitat for migrating birds and waterfowl on the Pacific Flyway.

“This project has a rare opportunity to create and preserve critical habitat in a rapidly developing urban area,” said Jeff Dillon, USACE Seattle District program manager. “The local community is actively engaged and motivated to move forward with this restoration opportunity. Downstream habitats are the subject of future restoration actions to establish safe long-term connectivity to the site for Endangered Species Act listed fish species.”

The Pacific Flyway is a major north-south path for migratory birds, extending from Alaska to South America. Birds travel some or all of this distance both in spring and in fall, following food sources, heading to breeding grounds, or traveling to overwintering sites.

According to a Corps of Engineers news release, the riparian ecosystem restoration plan includes a created wetted creek channel, removing invasive plants and installing diverse plantings. Additional tasks include replacing a vehicle crossing and adding a pedestrian boardwalk, to ensure access and limit plant damage. Minor enhancements to pond habitat are also planned.

A rendering of a pedestrian boardwalk to be installed as part of the restoration project at Ballinger Park.

“This project, which was partially funded through a grant from Washington state taxpayers, will create more places for birds, fish, turtles, salamanders and aquatic mammals to live,” said Laura Reed, City of Mountlake Terrace stormwater manager. “Visitors will be able to interact with a more contemplative park that’s close to home. Collaboration with the Army Corps of Engineers makes habitat restoration possible for over 16 acres of a previous golf course.”

The Corps of Engineers’ Continuing Authorities Program (CAP) authorizes the Corps to plan, design and construct small-scale projects. Local governments, agencies and tribes seeking assistance may request the Corps to investigate potential water resource issues that may fit a particular authority.

Under CAP Section 206 (Aquatic Habitat Ecosystem Restoration), the Corps can restore and protect aquatic ecosystems and wetland habitats to improve the quality of the environment. Examples of projects include channel modifications and wetland restoration. The maximum federal limit is $10 million per project.

Construction is scheduled to begin in summer 2023 and anticipated to run through spring 2024.

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