Eroding bluffs can be seen on Kenai North Beach in Kenai, Alaska, on June 3, 2021. (Photo by Erin Thompson/Peninsula Clarion)

Eroding bluffs can be seen on Kenai North Beach in Kenai, Alaska, on June 3, 2021. (Photo by Erin Thompson/Peninsula Clarion)

Kenai City Council contracts HDR Engineering for bluff stabilization project

The project aims to install large boulder-armored barriers at the base to absorb the impact from the waves.

The Kenai City Council on Wednesday unanimously passed a resolution to contract HDR Engineering to spearhead its Kenai bluff stabilization project.

In late January, the council requested any interested engineering firms submit their proposals for the project before March 4. After deliberations and scoring over five different firms, HDR Engineering ranked the highest for the bluff stabilization project.

To improve the ongoing erosion issue on the Kenai bluffs, the project aims to install large boulder-armored barriers at the base, approximately 12 feet tall, that are meant to absorb the impact from the waves.

The contract between the city of Kenai and HDR is approximately $716,000, with available contingency of the processing of contract amendments in the amount of approximately $74,000. The council approved the city manager to issue a purchase order to the firm in the amount of approximately $791,000.

Scott Curtin, the city public works director who also presented at the city council meeting, said the city, HDR Engineering and the partnering Army Corps of Engineers are still working out how much of the proposed work will need to be funded. Some of the data paid for during previous bluff stabilization initiatives may still be relevant, Curtin said in an interview with the Clarion.

The restabilization will take around a year, Curtin said during the meeting. He estimated he has the funding ready to use.

Around 65% of the funding will come from the state level, and the other 35% will come from the City of Kenai.

Curtin also said during the city council meeting that some of his counterparts at the Army Corps haven’t yet made their funds available for this project.

“I have to have them involved in this process; we have steps that we must have concurrence from them or we are at risk moving forward,” he said during the meeting.

In a memo from Curtin to the city council last month, he requested support for the resolution.

“As council is well aware this project has been an ongoing concern for many years,” he wrote. “This agreement … is intended to allow the City to move forward with the overall design of the project and to provide the City with bid ready plans and specifications.”

Curtin said since this has been a topic in Kenai for around 20 years, some community members have been hearing the same conversations about bluff erosion for a long time.

“I do think it would be a big improvement in the city,” he said during an interview with the Clarion. “It has been an ongoing concern and goal to get those improvements done. We’ve done everything we can to position ourselves [to move forward].”

The resolution, which offered a contract to HDR Engineering for the bluff stabilization initiative, is effective immediately.

Reach reporter Camille Botello at camille.botello@peninsulaclarion.com.

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