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USACE awards contract for Utqiagvik coastal erosion project

USACE - Alaska District
Published May 14, 2024
Updated: May 14, 2024

Today, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers – Alaska District awarded a construction contract for the Barrow Coastal Erosion Project in Utqiagvik.

Brice Civil Constructors Inc. of Anchorage, Alaska, will begin constructing a portion of the structure in Utqiagvik aimed at reducing erosion and the risk of storm damage to about five miles of coastline. This first effort will construct a revetment in front of the downtown area. Future work for the entire project consists of more rock revetments, a protective berm as well as raising and armoring Stevenson Street.

Funded by the 2022 Disaster Relief Supplemental Appropriations Act, the federal government is funding 90 percent of the project’s cost with the North Slope Borough responsible for the remaining 10 percent as the non-federal sponsor. This first construction contract award is valued at about $60 million. The additional segments are expected to be awarded over the next several years.

“This project demonstrates our commitment to rural communities on the front lines of climate change,” said Col. Jeffrey Palazzini, district commander. “Our experience constructing erosion protection projects in the Arctic coupled with great partnerships with our stakeholders will help build this vital infrastructure to protect the Utqiagvik community for many years to come.”

Previously known as Barrow, the city is the political and economic hub of the North Slope Borough and provides 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 and critical infrastructure valued at more than $1 billion; access to subsistence areas as well as cultural and historical resources. Currently, the borough constructs temporary beach berms by bulldozing sand supplemented with materials from upland areas. These ongoing activities and associated costs will be replaced by a permanent structure.

In August 2023, Palazzini and Harry Brower Jr., mayor of the North Slope Borough, signed the “project partnership agreement” during a ceremony at the district headquarters that was witnessed by Republican Sen. Dan Sullivan of Alaska. The agreement advanced the construction of the project with today’s award representing the next major milestone.

Rock production will begin in summer 2024 and work is scheduled for completion in 2031. During this project, USACE is committed to preserving cultural artifacts, protecting subsistence resources and minimizing impacts to beach access.

In 2022, USACE received about $1 billion worth of civil works construction projects in the state following the passage of the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law as well as the Disaster Relief Supplemental Appropriations Act. Other major projects funded by these two pieces of legislation include the Port of Nome Modification Project; Lowell Creek Flood Diversion Project in Seward; Moose Creek Dam Modification Project in North Pole; Petersburg Navigation Improvements; Elim Subsistence Harbor Project; and the Kenai River Bluffs Erosion Project.

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John Budnik

Release no. 24-010