JOINT BASE ELMENDORF-RICHARDSON --
The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers – Alaska District received authorization and funding for an array of critical construction projects and activities that will contribute to the development of the state’s water resources and help boost the economy.
Following the recent enactment of the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act, and the Disaster Relief Supplemental Appropriations Act, the Alaska District’s Civil Works Program was rewarded with an impressive share of the available funding that covers the federal cost share of the selected projects. The $940.7 million boon from Congress is a testament to the district’s planning efforts and commitment to mission execution alongside its stakeholders, partners and community leaders.
“We are on the frontlines of an evolving world and Alaska is an integral state to the success of our nation,” said Col. Damon Delarosa, commander of the Alaska District. “These newly allocated funds allow us to continue to build a stronger Alaska through deeds, not words.”
Major civil works projects in Alaska that received funding allocations from the infrastructure act are as follows:
- Port of Nome Modification Project – The remaining preconstruction, engineering and design phase as well as the first phase of construction for the Port of Nome Modification Project is funded at $250 million. In partnership with the City of Nome, the district has begun designing modifications to the port, also known as Nome Harbor, to alleviate existing vessel restrictions that are imposed by insufficient channel depths and limited harbor space. The construction project aims to provide larger vessels improved access to Nome’s existing harbor by enlarging the outer basin and creating a new deep-water basin with a depth of minus 40 feet. Dredging would be required to deepen and maintain both basins and associated navigation channels. Currently, ship transportation is limited by existing depths in the outer basin of minus 22 feet. This depth is inadequate to safely accommodate vessels of drafts greater than about 18 feet. A robust and efficient transportation hub at Nome is foundational to the long-term viability of surrounding communities in the region. The Port of Nome is a regional hub located on the Seward Peninsula and adjacent to Norton Sound, which is centrally located along the western coast of Alaska. Nome has no access to major road systems and is approximately 545 miles northwest of Anchorage.
- Lowell Creek Flood Diversion Project – The district’s plan to construct a new flood diversion system for Lowell Creek in Seward is now funded with $185.2 million. Upgrades will include a new 18-foot diameter tunnel and diversion dam upstream from the current tunnel; refurbishment to the existing tunnel; extension of the outfall by 150-feet to carry stream flow and debris over Lowell Point Road; and a canopy to protect the tunnel inlet from landslides. The plan also calls for the removal of select trees that could block the tunnel if swept into the creek during a flood event. The existing flood diversion system in Lowell Creek Canyon does not adequately manage high-water events and presents a risk to public safety, property and critical infrastructure with little to no warning. Excessive flood waters from the current system continue to threaten the community and pose a significant risk of economic damages. Debris flowing from the outfall creates a tenuous situation with a history of damage to the bridge on Lowell Point Road, as well as flooding additional infrastructure in the vicinity.
- Moose Creek Dam Safety Modification Project – The second construction phase is now funded with about $88.6 million in new allocations for the Chena Flood Control Project’s Moose Creek Dam near North Pole. In 2021, the initial portion of construction for the dam safety modification project was funded at $59.2 million. Last August, a contract valued at about $36 million was awarded to the Bauer Foundation Corp. of Florida to begin constructing a mix-in-place concrete barrier wall at the dam that spans 6,200 linear feet at depths of up to 65 feet. This project stems from a 2017 modification study that recommended the establishment of a reinforced dam embankment to extend the life of the aging infrastructure and provide the greater Fairbanks region with protection during high-water events for many years to come. The dam will continue to operate and regulate the flow of the Chena River as needed while construction is underway. Referred to as a “mega project,” it will be the largest USACE civil works construction effort in Alaska since the completion of the Snettisham Hydroelectric Project near Juneau. Construction is expected to start in the spring of 2022.
- Kenai River Bluffs Erosion Project – A protective berm along the Kenai Bluffs located near Kenai, Alaska, is funded at about $28 million to cover the preconstruction, engineering and design phase as well as the construction phase. In 2019, USACE published the Kenai Bluffs Bank Stabilization Section 116 Feasibility Study that recommended the establishment of a protective berm at the bluff toe. The project will provide a berm that stretches about 5,000 feet along the base of the eroding bluff. It will require the placement of about 42,400 cubic yards of armor rock, 33,200 cubic yards of crushed rock, and 13,100 cubic yards of gravel base. The new infrastructure is designed to shield the lower portion of the bluff from storm damage and prevent the removal of accumulated sediment between the toe and the berm. The local non-federal sponsor is the City of Kenai, which is covering a portion of the costs for this federally constructed coastal storm risk management project. The height of the bluffs range between 55 and 70-feet, while the face is receding about three feet per year. Section 116 of the Energy and Water Development and Related Agencies Appropriations Act provides USACE the authority to carry out structural and non-structural projects for coastal erosion, storm damage prevention and reduction as well as ice and glacial damage in Alaska.
- Petersburg Navigation Improvements – The preconstruction, engineering and design phase for navigation improvements at Petersburg’s South Harbor is funded at $6.3 million. The district aims to deepen the harbor via dredging operations to enable safe navigation. The existing conditions pose navigational hazards for deeper drafting vessels. The project is divided into four dredging units according to depth, that range from about minus 9 feet to about 19 feet. The total volume of material that will be excavated from the South Harbor is about 82,720 cubic yards. The sediment will be placed in the Frederick Sound Disposal Area in accordance with the site selection study and ocean dumping permit issued by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. Project depth will be achieved using an excavator mounted on a barge to dislodge the consolidated clay beneath the granular sediment.
- Elim Subsistence Harbor Project – The preconstruction, engineering and design phase for the Elim Subsistence Harbor is funded at $1.3 million. Located on the northwest shore of Norton Bay about 96 miles east of Nome on the Seward Peninsula, the proposed project aims to provide safe, reliable and efficient navigation along with access and moorage for the subsistence and commercial fleet, as well as fuel and freight barges that serve the community of Elim. Currently, Elim has no moorage, harbor, or boat landing infrastructure. In January 2021, the district completed the final feasibility study that recommended the construction of a harbor at Elim Beach sized to accommodate one 160-foot barge and associated 86-foot tug, two tenders and 50 vessels varying in size from 18-feet to 32-feet. The project will provide a 300-foot-wide entrance channel with a dredging depth of 13 feet. Also, the plan incorporates bulkheads, breakwaters, turning basin, boat launch and upland area for temporary storage. The total estimated cost of this new infrastructure is about $75 million.
- Operations and Maintenance – Continued funding in the amount of $17.1 million will support annual dredging activities at the Ninilchik and St. Paul Harbors as well as maintenance at the Chena Lakes River Lakes Flood Control Project.
Furthermore, one project was funded under the Disaster Relief Supplemental Appropriations Act:
- Barrow Alaska Coastal Erosion Project – The construction of the Barrow Alaska Coastal Erosion Project in Utqiavik is fully funded with federal dollars at about $364.3 million. The community previously known as Barrow is the political and economic hub of the North Slope Borough, providing important services to surrounding villages in Northern Alaska. The community experiences frequent and severe coastal storms, resulting in flooding and erosion that threaten public health and safety, the economy of the community, critical infrastructure valued at more than $1 billion, access to subsistence areas as well as cultural and historical resources. The project will reduce the risk of storm damage to about 5 miles of coastline by constructing a rock revetment at the bluff area, building a protective berm and raising Stevenson Street.
While the infusion of more dollars will help these activities reach new milestones, the district’s Civil Works Branch continues the task of completing other important work such as the design for Craig Harbor and Dutch Harbor Channels, while identifying opportunities to assist additional communities.
“Through strong partnerships and hard work, we will continue to collaborate with community stakeholders to deliver critical infrastructure for the state,” said Bruce Sexauer, chief of the Alaska District’s Civil Works Branch. “Further developing these civil works projects will improve safety, security and commerce to our communities and the nation.”
To learn more about Army civil works projects funded by recent congressional appropriations, please visit https://www.usace.army.mil/Media/News-Releases/News-Release-Article-View/Article/2903380/army-civil-works-studies-projects-and-programs-to-be-accomplished-with-bipartis/.
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Release no. 22-001