Graphic by Ashlyn O’Hara/Peninsula Clarion

Graphic by Ashlyn O’Hara/Peninsula Clarion

Kenai reiterates bluff importance in letter to state

The project would stabilize about 5,000 feet of bluff on the Kenai River’s north shore

The Kenai City Council emphasized the importance of state funding for the Kenai Bluff Stabilization project in a letter sent to state officials, which they approved at their Feb. 17 meeting.

The letter, which was sent to Gov. Mike Dunleavy, Rep. Ben Carpenter, R-Nikiski, Rep. Ron Gillham, R-Kenai, and Sen. Peter Micciche, R-Soldotna, outlines the importance of the bluff stabilization project, which the city included as part of its capital improvement program priorities for state funding requests in FY 2022.

The project, which the letter says the city has recognized “as a number one priority for over 30 years,” would stabilize roughly 5,000 feet of bluff on the north shore of the Kenai River, starting from the mouth of the river and ending near Pacific Star Seafoods.

A feasibility study conducted by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers dated March 2019 recommends the creation of a protective berm at the toe of the bluff. This, the study said, would prevent flood tides from washing away material that collects at the bottom of the bluff and would offer further protection from storm damage.

The city began formally soliciting proposals for professional engineering services earlier this month. The berm would be roughly 5,000 feet long and composed of armor rock, B-rock and gravel base.

In their letter to state officials, the city said that the project is critical to revitalizing Old Town Kenai, where they say preservation and development efforts have been “restrained” because of bluff erosion.

In total, the project is estimated to cost $32.5 million. The project design and construction phases are supported by federal funding at 65% and non-federal funding, including city and state, at 35%. From the state, the city is requesting $5 million in capital funding, which would result in a federal match of $9.2 million.

“Beyond Old Town, this project makes the statement that the City of Kenai is a worthy investment,” the letter says. “With Federal, State, and Local monies, including the issuance of general obligation bonds approved by Kenai voters, being utilized to construct this project, all levels of government are partnering towards a vibrant and stable Kenai that can preserve its unique cultural identity as well as fulfill its potential as a hub of tourism, fishing, and business development on the Kenai Peninsula.”

More information about the stabilization project can be found on the city’s website at kenai.city.

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

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