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2024 USACE Infrastructure Projects

by Feb 26, 2024Construction, Guest Author, Magazine

Captain Charles Bierwirth | USACE-Alaska District

The US Army Corps of Engineers – Alaska District (USACE) is preparing for a productive 2024 construction season. The organization’s robust workload includes major infrastructure construction efforts under the district’s civil and military programs in every corner of the state. These projects are constructed in collaboration with a variety of stakeholders and contractors.

“Protection of people and local economies is a central theme in the district’s upcoming workload… These important constructions will inhibit coastal erosion, support national security, and bolster human health and safety.”

—Valerie Palmer, Acting Chief of Programs and Project Management, USACE–Alaska District

“Protection of people and local economies is a central theme in the district’s upcoming workload,” says Valerie Palmer, acting chief of the district’s Programs and Project Management Division. “These important constructions will inhibit coastal erosion, support national security, and bolster human health and safety.”

USACE expects to award at least $125 million for civil works projects, making this category its largest area of investment in 2024. Following the enactment of the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law and the Disaster Relief Supplemental Appropriations Act in January 2022, the district’s portfolio of projects will be funded with nearly $1 billion for critical civil works and disaster relief projects in the coming decade. Many of these efforts will contribute to the development of the state’s water resources, help boost economies, and reduce flood and storm risks for more than one dozen communities.

The Kenai River Bluffs Erosion Project will place 42,400 cubic yards of armor rock, 33,200 cubic yards of crushed rock, and 13,100 cubic yards of gravel base at the base of the eroding bluffs near Kenai. The USACE-Alaska District will award a contract for this project in 2024, with a significant amount of construction anticipated for the year as well.

Cameron McLeod | USACE-Alaska District

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Alaska Business June 2024 Cover

June 2024

Civil Infrastructure Projects

In 2019, USACE published the Kenai River Bluffs Bank Stabilization Section 116 Feasibility Study that recommended the establishment of a protective berm at the bluff toe. The protective material will span nearly 5,000 feet along the base of the eroding bluff. It will consist of 42,400 cubic yards of armor rock, 33,200 cubic yards of crushed rock, and 13,100 cubic yards of gravel base.

On September 25, 2023, Colonel Jeffrey Palazzini, commander of the Alaska District, joined Michael Connor, Assistant Secretary of the Army for Civil Works, and Terry Eubank, city manager of Kenai, in the signing of the project partnership agreement.

“This project is protecting some critical infrastructure in the community of Kenai,” Palmer says. “Residences, businesses, and the local senior center will each receive protections from coastal erosion because of this important work.”

The district is awarding a contract for the Kenai River Bluffs erosion project in 2024, with a significant amount of construction anticipated to begin this year as well.

In North Pole, the Moose Creek Dam Safety Modification Project is another key effort that will have a valuable impact on the greater Fairbanks community. Bauer Foundation Corporation of Florida will enter its third season constructing a mix-in-place concrete barrier wall under a contract currently valued at $75.7 million. Once finished, it will span 6,200 linear feet at depths of up to 65 feet at the dam.

The improvement project was needed after a USACE modification study conducted in 2017 recommended the establishment of a reinforced dam embankment to extend the life of the aging infrastructure. The safety upgrade will enhance the dam’s strength and stability to provide the greater Fairbanks area with continued flood protection for many years to come.

The district concluded the 2023 construction season at Moose Creek Dam in October. The team reached the midway point of their work and will continue to install the barrier in the spring. Construction of this project began in the spring of 2022 and is scheduled to be complete by January 2026. The modification is the largest USACE civil works construction effort in Alaska since the completion of the Snettisham Hydroelectric Project near Juneau.

“The Alaska District’s current objectives in military construction are in line with larger goals around the agency… Quality-of-life improvements will continue to be a significant priority for the organization in 2024.”

—Valerie Palmer, Acting Chief of Programs and Project Management, USACE–Alaska District

The Moose Creek Dam Safety Modification Project stems from a 2017 modification study that recommended the establishment of a reinforced dam embankment to extend the life of the aging infrastructure and provide the greater Fairbanks region with additional protection during high-water events.

Cameron McLeod | USACE- Alaska District

The Port of Nome Modification Project will provide larger vessels with improved access to Nome’s existing harbor by enlarging the outer basin and creating a new deep-water basin at a depth of minus 40 feet. The USACE-Alaska District intends to sign a project partnership agreement with the city of Nome in early 2024.

PND Engineers

A new child development center at Fort Wainwright is a key example of the USACE-Alaska District’s commitment to military members and their families. The new facility will accommodate 338 children ranging from 6 weeks to 5 years old. This facility is nearing completion and is anticipated to be ready for use in 2024.

Katy Doetsch | USACE-Alaska District

Northern Shores

Meanwhile in Nome, the construction of the Port of Nome Modification Project will provide larger vessels with improved access to the existing harbor by enlarging the outer basin and creating a new deep-water basin at a depth of minus 40 feet. Dredging is required to deepen and maintain both basins and associated navigation channels. Currently, ship transportation is limited by existing depths in the outer basin of minus 22 feet. This depth is inadequate to safely accommodate vessels of drafts greater than 18 feet.

USACE signed the project partnership agreement with the city of Nome in January, marking the official start of implementing construction efforts between the two stakeholders. The project opened for solicitation shortly after the agreement was signed, and USACE expects a contract to be awarded in the third quarter of the federal fiscal year.

“The port modification at Nome carries some far-reaching implications,” Palmer says. “The region’s economy and national security interests will each see tangible benefits from this construction.”

In Alaska’s northernmost community of Utqiaġvik, the district will execute the Barrow Coastal Erosion Project from funding allocated under the Disaster Relief Supplemental Appropriations Act. Utqiaġvik experiences severe coastal storms, so USACE will create a rock revetment at the bluff area, build a protective berm, and raise Stevenson Street. This effort will directly protect important cultural resources, infrastructure, and human safety.

“This is an essential project for the North Slope Borough and the community of Utqiaġvik,” Palmer says. “The construction will protect their critical infrastructure and cultural resources from the intense storm damage that the area often experiences.”

On August 29, 2023, Palazzini signed the project partnership agreement for the Barrow Coastal Erosion Project with Harry Brower Jr., mayor of the North Slope Borough.

The district issued a request for proposals for Phase I of the project in December, and USACE anticipates a contract award in the third quarter of the federal fiscal year.

On August 29, Colonel Jeffrey Palazzini, district commander, Harry Brower Jr., mayor of the North Slope Borough, and Senator Dan Sullivan participated in a ceremonial signing of the project partnership agreement for the Barrow Coastal Erosion Project in Utqiaġvik. This critical construction will reduce the risk of storm damage to about five miles of coastline by creating a rock revetment at the bluff area, building a protective berm, and raising Stevenson Street.

Cameron McLeod | USACE- Alaska District

“Small business contributions span throughout the entire portfolio of what the Alaska District does… They are critical for our ability to accomplish civil works, environmental, construction, and design projects.”

—Ryan Zachry, Small Business Professional, USACE–Alaska District

Military Construction

The runway extension project at Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson continues to be one of the district’s largest and most significant military construction projects. In July 2022, the district awarded a $309 million contract to Kiewit Infrastructure West Co. to extend the existing north-south runway by 2,500 feet to bring its total length to 10,000 feet. This construction will significantly increase JBER’s capability as a force projection platform and further advance the national defense strategy. So far, the team has excavated more than 11 million cubic yards of material while working year-round and is rapidly approaching the end of excavation. This critical project is scheduled for completion in September 2025.

“The Alaska District’s current objectives in military construction are in line with larger goals around the agency,” Palmer says. “Quality-of-life improvements will continue to be a significant priority for the organization in 2024.”

These projects include new infrastructure as well as renovations and modernization of existing facilities requiring upgrades.

Among these renovations is JBER’s Turnagain Hall dormitory. The district awarded a $20.3 million contract to Silver Mountain Construction of Anchorage under a 100 percent small business set-aside in November. Improvements at the facility will upgrade a common area on the first floor and convert two rooms on the upper floors into new bed spaces to expand residential capacity to 58 occupants. The district anticipates the construction to be completed in January 2026.

In addition, the district awarded a $67 million contract to UNIT COMAPANY in May 2023 for the construction of an 84-person dormitory at Clear Space Force Station. The three-story facility will consist of a reinforced concrete foundation with slab on grade, reinforced concrete masonry walls with exterior insulation and finish, and a standing seam metal roof. This important project will also include a severe weather passageway from the new dormitory to a central location.

Meanwhile, a new child development center at Fort Wainwright is another important example of the district’s commitment to quality-of-life enhancements for military members and their families. The $31.2 million contract for this facility was awarded to Watterson Construction in November 2021. The new center will accommodate 338 children ranging from 6 weeks to 5 years old. This project is nearing completion and is anticipated to be ready for use in 2024.

“Forming a partnership with an established business through a mentor-protégé agreement or performing as a subcontractor on large contracts are excellent ways to establish a small business on the radar of the Alaska District.”

—Ryan Zachry, Small Business Professional, USACE–Alaska District

Representatives of the USACE-Alaska District attended a groundbreaking ceremony for a new eighty-four-person dormitory at Clear Space Force Station in August 2023. This project will provide a modern living facility to members of the military serving at the installation.

Cameron McLeod | USACE- Alaska District

Collaborating with Small Businesses

Working with small businesses is a key element of the district’s project execution strategy. In all areas of the organization’s missions, small businesses are critical and highly valued.

“Small business contributions span throughout the entire portfolio of what the Alaska District does,” says Ryan Zachry, small business professional at the Alaska District. “They are critical for our ability to accomplish civil works, environmental, construction, and design projects.”

The district has maintained project set-asides for small businesses for military projects at JBER, Fort Wainwright, Eielson Air Force Base, and Eareckson Air Force Station on Shemya Island in 2024. Renovations and quality-of-life upgrades for people serving in the military stand as the most notable designations, although large projects such as the JBER runway extension project still maintain an important small business component.

The district’s Formerly Used Defense Sites program also contains numerous examples leveraging small business contracts in support of the mission. In one instance, USACE contracted with ARS Aleut Remediation to decommission a septic vault at Caines Head-Fort McGilvray in Resurrection Bay near Seward. The team completed this work in September 2023.

In addition, the district contracted with Brice Engineering of Anchorage to complete a remedial investigation, feasibility study, proposed plan, and record of decision at the Nike Site Bay Formerly Used Defense Site on the Knik Arm, which housed a Nike Hercules missile system during the Cold War. After completing the remedial investigation in 2022, Brice continues to work closely with the district to complete the remainder of the required project documentations.

Work with USACE

For small businesses that wish to partner with the district for the first time, Zachry recommends two methods to facilitate their experience.

“Forming a partnership with an established business through a mentor-protégé agreement or performing as a subcontractor on large contracts are excellent ways to establish a small business on the radar of the Alaska District,” Zachry says. “Our organization values past performance when seeking contractors, and these are great approaches to establishing that experience.”

Registration on the “System for Award Management” website, which can be accessed at www.sam.gov, is another critical component of small business participation with the district. It’s the official US government system for contract opportunities, data, and entity information.

“This platform is a superb tool for small businesses to gain awareness of and compete for contracts,” Zachry says. “The entire federal government uses this platform whenever they buy anything.”

The Apex Accelerators program, formerly known as the Procurement Technical Assistance program, is another valuable resource for small businesses that wish to work with USACE. This government program provides education and training resources that equip businesses with the tools and knowledge they need to participate in federal, state, and local contracts.

“A lot of new small businesses are not aware that there is a government agency with the sole mission of helping them compete for government contracts,” Zachry says. “They provide many of their services for free and are excellent at what they do.”

Projects across the state spanning many of the district’s missions will be awarded and executed in 2024, and the organization is excited to work with partners and stakeholders to complete them. Important civil works projects in many locations will see progress in the solicitation and awarding process this year. As these constructions take shape, the importance of the district’s collaboration with its partners stands clearer than ever.

“Our relationships with contractors, no matter their size or expertise, are critical to accomplishing these projects,” Palmer says. “They are an indispensable element of the Alaska District’s mission, and we couldn’t execute our work without them.”

Cameron McLeod is a public affairs specialist with the US Army Corps of Engineers-Alaska District.

Alaska Business June 2024 cover
In This Issue
Delivering Anchorage's Promise
June 2024
Welcome to the June 2024 issue, which features our annual Transportation Special Section. We've paired it this year with a focus on the Pacific Northwest and Hawai'i, as Alaska has close ties to both that reach far beyond lines of transportation. Even further out past our Pacific Ocean compatriots and our Canadian neighbors to the east, Alaska's reach extends to India and Singapore. Enjoy this issue that explores many of Alaska's far-flung business dealings.
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