Since the mid-1990s, the demand for boat access to the Kenai River at Bing’s Landing has been high. In the past decade, the amount of boat traffic has steadily increased making it the fastest growing section of the river for boat traffic, John Blackwell said.
Blackwell, Alaska State Park Superintendent for the Kenai Peninsula said construction to alleviate some of the boat ramp congestion is scheduled to begin later this summer.
The Division of Parks and Outdoor Recreation has worked with park users and the Kenai River Special Management Area advisory board to create a plan to make improvements to the boat ramp and the area downstream of the ramp.
The plan includes the addition of an elevated light-penetrating boardwalk from the boat ramp downstream to help park goers access boats that are coming in or waiting to launch. It also looks to expand the current, single boat ramp to a double ramp allowing two boats to launch at the same time.
“We hope to have work completed this fall, but we’re still finalizing plans,” Blackwell said.
Funding in the amount of $300,000 was received from the Alaska Legislature in 2009. Some of that funding was used for the planning of the boat access project as well as the construction the fence along the backline of Bing’s Landing at Rapids Avenue. The remainder of the $300,000 will be used for this summer’s construction plan.
The increased use of Bing’s Landing throughout the years has led to another issue — a lack of parking.
“We don’t have enough parking within the park,” Blackwell said, “so people are parking along the subdivision roads which creates a conflict with neighbors and park users.”
With a signature from the governor, state funding has been allocated to relieve those issues. Gov. Sean Parnell allocated $2 million to Bing’s Landing in his proposed capital budget to the Legislature, and the body approved it.
It will probably take two to three years to complete the project, Blackwell said. Based on the Kenai River Comprehensive Management Plan of 1997, a draft of proposed parking areas as well as other improvements has been created. However, more work has to be done before finalizing the draft. Survey work will be done, there will be a public involvement process and the KRSMA advisory board will create a plan that will work for park users and park managers, Blackwell said.
“It’s a lengthy process,” he said. “It takes time to get it right.”
The drafted map shows a proposed new road with access to a small, long-term parking lot with 10 spaces and a larger, short-term lot with 45 spaces so users won’t have to drive into the subdivisions and park along the road.
New stairways and paths are also on the draft to help with some of the erosion on the social trails.
Blackwell said the erosion has been caused by a combination of people walking on unstable soils and natural occurrences.
The department had been hopeful that Parnell would green-light the funding to address the issues at Bing’s Landing since he proposed the $2 million in his original budget, Blackwell said.
“From what I’ve heard talking with stakeholders,” Blackwell said, “they have been very excited that the funding was approved by the Legislature. This will address a number of issues to help folks access the resources, whether it’s participating in the shore-based fishery or launching their boat down the river.”
Kaylee Osowski can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.