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  6.  | Congress Funds Array of US Corps of Engineers-Alaska District Projects in 2021

Congress Funds Array of US Corps of Engineers-Alaska District Projects in 2021

Jan 27, 2021 | Construction, Government, News

The Westport, a hopper dredge operated by Manson Construction of Seattle, clears the seafloor in the shadow of a vehicle carrier in September 2020 near Anchorage. The US Army Corps of Engineers–Alaska District contracts the vessel to maintain the Port of Alaska to the congressionally approved depth of -35 feet for safe navigation.

Rachel Napolitan | US Army Corps of Engineers–Alaska District

The US Army Corps of Engineers–Alaska District received authorization and funding for an array of critical studies, projects, and activities that will contribute to the development of the state’s water resources and help boost the economy during fiscal year 2021.

Following the recent enactment of the fiscal year 2021 appropriation, USACE Headquarters provided Congress with its work plan for the Army Civil Works Program on January 19. The Alaska District’s planning efforts and commitment to mission execution were rewarded with an impressive share of the available funding.

“Within our portfolio of civil works projects, a significant number are ready for design and some shovel-ready and simply awaiting funds to move forward,” said Colonel Damon Delarosa, commander of the Alaska District.

“I’m proud of what we’ve accomplished to lay the necessary groundwork and pleased to have the appropriations to finish what we started. This important work will improve safety, security, and commerce within Alaska and the nation.”

Moose Creek Dam Safety Modification Project

The initial construction phase for the dam safety modification project at the Chena Flood Control Project’s Moose Creek Dam near North Pole is funded at $59.2 million.

In 2017, a modification study recommended the construction of a mix-in-place barrier along the dam embankment. The project will strengthen the eight-mile-long berm to extend its life and provide the greater Fairbanks region with protection during high-water events for many years to come. The dam will continue to operate and regulate the flow of the Chena River as needed while the project is underway.

Construction is expected to start in the summer of 2021.

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Port of Nome Modification Project

The preconstruction, engineering, and design phase for this port expansion effort in Nome has been fully funded with $2.7 million.

The Port of Nome resides about 545 miles northwest of Anchorage and is not connected to the state road system. Located along the Bering Sea coastline near the Arctic Circle, the community serves as a regional hub for surrounding villages to access fuel and consumer goods. Limited marine infrastructure and insufficient draft depths at ports in Nome and the Arctic have led to operational inefficiencies, increased safety risks and vessel damage, and greater costs for goods and services, as well as a threat to the long-term viability of the region.

This construction project would provide larger vessels access to Nome’s existing harbor by enlarging the outer basin and creating a new deep-water basin with a depth of 40 feet. Dredging would be required to deepen and maintain both basins and associated navigation channels.

Craig Harbor Navigation Improvements

The preconstruction, engineering, and design phase for improvements to Craig Harbor is funded to completion with $200,000.

Located in the Southeast Alaska town, this project will construct a 10.1-acre mooring basin that can accommodate 145 vessels. Features of the harbor will include about 1,933 feet of breakwaters with fish passages. Other major construction actions include the removal of the existing pilings and dock, development of rubble-mound breakwaters, and establishment of a moorage float system. No dredging would be required to construct the project.

Navigation-related problems at Craig stem from excessive surplus demand for moorage. Craig has multiple existing moorage facilities. However, due to the area’s rich marine resources and natural beauty, mooring is in high demand for both commercial and recreational vessels causing overcrowding, increased damage to vessels and facilities, and delays.

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Elim Subsistence Harbor

This project for proposed navigation improvements at Elim is funded with $110,000 to complete the feasibility study and to initiate the preconstruction, engineering, and design phase.

The project would dredge an access channel to a barge landing and dock as well as a mooring area and boat launch to be constructed as well. The access channel will be outside of wave protection, but the barge landing, dock, mooring area, and boat launch will be inside constructed breakwaters to provide about 6.2 acres of interior basin. This effort would remove about 160,000 cubic yards of material.

The purpose of this study is to identify a feasible solution that provides safe, reliable, and efficient navigation; access and moorage for the subsistence and commercial fleet; and fuel and freight barges service the community of Elim.

Operations and Maintenance

Continued funding will support annual dredging activities at the Port of Alaska in Anchorage, Dillingham Harbor, Homer Harbor, Ninilchik Harbor, Nome Harbor, and Wrangell Harbor.

Additional funds will support various project condition surveys and levee inspections, as well as groin repairs along the Tanana River.

Dredging operations underway in the northern part of the Port of Alaska in September 2020. The US Army Corps of Engineers–Alaska District has maintained the port since the ’60s to ensure safe passage for vessels providing services to approximately 90 percent of Alaska’s population and receiving about half of all goods entering.

Rachel Napolitan | US Army Corps of Engineers–Alaska District

The Army Civil Works Program

While the infusion of more dollars will help these activities reach new milestones, the district’s Civil Works Branch continues the task of completing other important work such as the feasibility report for the Lowell Creek Diversion Tunnel in Seward and the planning and design phases for erosion projects in Utqiavik and Kenai.

“These funds are a continuation of the hard work that the Corps and our partners are undertaking,” says Bruce Sexauer, chief of the Alaska District’s Civil Works Branch.

“We will continue to work alongside our community stakeholders to deliver critical infrastructure for the state.”

The Army Civil Works Program was provided with about $7.3 billion in congressional funding this year. Of those appropriations, USACE is responsible for allocating about $2.3 billion.

The Army Civil Works Program manages the distribution of funds for the planning, design, and construction, as well as operation and maintenance of water resource projects. It places a focus on the highest performing work within the three main civil corks mission areas: commercial navigation, flood and storm damage reduction, and aquatic ecosystem restoration.

It also funds programs that contribute to the protection of the nation’s waters and wetlands; generation of low-cost renewable hydropower; restoration of certain sites contaminated as a result of the nation’s early atomic weapons development program; and emergency preparedness and training to respond to natural disasters.

Ongoing work eligible for consideration for the additional funding generally includes programs, projects, and activities that can attain a significant milestone, complete a discrete element of work, or produce significant outputs during the fiscal year. 

The work plan identifies the programs, projects and activities that will receive funding and how much. This fiscal year, the work plan funds to completion ten feasibility studies, seventeen projects in the preconstruction, engineering, and design phase, and seventeen construction projects or elements of projects.

“I’m impressed that so much of our work was given prioritization this year,” Delarosa says. “It’s a testament to strong partnerships that we’ve built and the value of what we are doing in this state. Looking ahead, our focus is on delivering engineering solutions that are on-time, within budget and built to last.”

Learn more about the Army Civil Works projects funded nationwide here.

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