A stroll beginning at the Soldotna Sports Complex will soon get visitors all the way to the heart of the city.
The $197,400 Centennial Park to Visitor Center Trail Construction Project will result in the installation of several hundred feet of trail, elevated walkway and fencing. It links a system of trails that runs along the Kenai River at Kalifornsky Beach Road to another that runs along the river at the Sterling Highway.
“Essentially we’re connecting Centennial Park with kind of our downtown corridor, via the trail system,” said City Engineer Kyle Kornelis.
Much of the trail at Centennial Park is built from light-penetrating, grated boardwalks and a portion of the new section of trail will be the same. However, it will transition into a gravel trail as it extends toward the sports complex, according to the city’s bid documents.
The project went through a bidding process in late July, but it has taken three years to get the permits needed to construct the trail as it winds through a riverfront parcel that is managed by the state under its partnership with the Exxon Valdez Oil Spill Trustee Council.
The council’s habitat protection program used civil settlement funds from the Exxon Valdez oil spill litigation for restoration and habitat protection.
The city had to apply for permits through the Department of Natural Resources and the Kenai Peninsula Borough, according to its request for proposals documents.
“The permitting process definitely took some time and navigation,” Kornelis said. “We were hoping to do some construction last year but we did not receive sufficient snow cover in order to work down by the river with excavators and drive the pilings.”
The construction permit conditions require at least 12 inches of snow or crane mats in order for work to be conducted along portions of the trail.
If the Kenai Peninsula has another relatively snow-less winter the low-bidder — Anchorage-based Treeline Construction — will provide crane mats or haul snow into the area to begin construction by February of 2016.
Kornelis said Treeline Construction could begin work on some of the upland portions of the trail in the fall.
One other condition of the permit is a moose crossing which Kornelis said will be built by elevating a portion of the trail at least 6 feet above the ground.
Kornelis said the project is part of the city’s master plan and its quest to provide inter-connectedness to visitors and city residents who use the trail system.
Reach Rashah McChesney at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow her on Twitter @litmuslens