Graphic by Ashlyn O’Hara/Peninsula Clarion

Graphic by Ashlyn O’Hara/Peninsula Clarion

Kenai looks to bid bluff project in April

The project, when completed, will mark the end of decadeslong efforts by the city to stabilize about 5,000 feet of bluff

The Kenai City Council on Wednesday updated the city’s budget to reflect a $6.5 million contribution by the State of Alaska to the Kenai Bluff Stabilization Project, which city officials hope to put out to bid in April.

The project, when completed, will mark the end of decadeslong efforts by the city to stabilize about 5,000 feet of bluff on the north shore of the Kenai River from the mouth of the river to about Pacific Star Seafoods. Through the project, a berm would be constructed at the toe of the bluff, which is currently eroding at a rate of 3 feet per year.

The state contribution was one of multiple financial boosts the project received this year. Project costs are not expected to exceed $35 million.

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, which recommended the berm option, has committed to funding 65% of the project costs, while the city is responsible for coming up with the 35% local match.

U.S. Sen. Lisa Murkowski secured earlier this year $28 million in federal funding for the project. That local match will be paid for with the $6.5 million from the state, as well as $3.2 million in state grants previously awarded to the city and $2.55 million allocated for the project in the City of Kenai’s General Fund.

“This brings the total amount of secured match that the City has to $12.25 million, sufficient to support a total Project cost of $35 million, matching $22.75 million in Federal funding,” Kenai City Manager Paul Ostrander wrote in a Sept. 29 memo to council members.

Ostrander said during Wednesday’s meeting that the city is still monitoring additional funding and legislative opportunities related to the project, but that the city hopes to see construction begin next summer.

“The administration continues to work to position ourselves for further funding if possible and continues to follow important legislation at the federal level that could impact this as well,” Ostrander said. “But we’re sitting really well with the $6.5 million in there to be able to meet our timeline.”

More information about the Kenai Bluff Stabilization Project can be found on the City of Kenai’s website at kenai.city.

Reach reporter Ashlyn O’Hara at ashlyn.ohara@peninsulaclarion.com.

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