Next step in bluff erosion project a welcome one

For years, the only movement on Kenai's bluff erosion mitigation efforts has been the erosion of the bluff itself, at a pace of about 3 feet per year.

Now, after decades of trying, it appears the city finally will see the start of construction on a project to stabilize the bluff that runs along the north bank of the Kenai River, from Mission Avenue in Old Town east to the Kenai Senior Center.

It's a project that's been at the top of the city's priority list for some 25 years, and finnaly appears to have the green light as the Army Corps of Engineers wraps up the preconstruction work with its final feasibility study, which includes a consultation with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and an Environmental Impact Statement.

According to Kenai City Manager Rick Koch, it's the kind of work that wouldn't be done if construction funding isn't going to be available.

We're thrilled to be so close to seeing some dirt moved by something other than the tides and the river.

The project comes with a hefty price tag, about $40 million. The city's poriton of the bill will be $14 million, and will include some in-kind contributions, such as rock from the borough quarry and the land for the project.

But the city has been anticipating this expense for almost as long as it's been anticipating this project, and the benefits of the project as envisioned go beyond simply helping the landowners along that 5,000-foot stretch. The bluff location certainly becomes more attractive for both residential and commercial buildings when those buildings aren't in danger of sliding into the river.

And a walking trail is part of the project, which means raising the quality of life for Kenai residents and visitors.

No doubt, getting to this point has been a long, slow process. It might be a couple more years before we see shovels in the ground, but we're excited to see a project that's been so important to our community for so long finally taking a big step forward.

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