Officials from the city of Kenai took the opportunity to discuss the bluff erosion with Sen. Mark Begich during his recent visit to the Kenai Peninsula.
Addressing the ongoing bluff erosion has been a top priority for Kenai residents for decades. Begich said that legislation passed in 2010 should get the process moving again. We hope that’s the case, because while the project has been moving slowly if at all, bluff erosion continues to take a steady 3 feet per year.
The city has been waiting for the Assistant Secretary of the Army for Civil Works to sign off on the project’s final feasibility document for nearly two years; according to Begich, the Energy and Water Development and Related Agencies Appropriations Act of 2010 gives the go-ahead to do so.
After that, city administrators still have their work cut out for them. While the project plan is in place, Kenai will need to make sure funding is lined up for the $41 million project. Kenai has been planning to cover its share of the expense for years, but some funds will need to be re-appropriated as the project has been idle for so long.
Addressing bluff erosion is a crucial issue for Kenai residents. The benefits of the project as envisioned go beyond simply helping the affected property owners. The bluff location becomes more attractive for both residential and commercial investment when those buildings aren’t in danger of sliding into the Kenai River. And a walking trail is part of the project, which means raising the quality of life for Kenai residents and visitors.
Getting to this point has been a long, slow process. We’re optimistic the project is in fact moving forward again, and we’ll soon see dirt being moved by something other than the relentless weather and tides.