Federal, state and borough officials have penned an agreement launching the first phase of the Kenai Spur Road extension project that eventually will extend the Kenai Spur Highway 26 miles beyond its current terminus at Captain Cook State Recreation Area.
The gravel road, sometimes referred to as the North Road Extension Project, has been in the conceptual stage for years. The agreement begins the preliminary engineering and environmental phase. The borough soon will hire a consultant to perform this work.
Once built, the road will open territory along the northwest coast of the Kenai Peninsula to development, including a pair of subdivisions already platted by the borough, namely the Gray Cliff and Moose Point subdivisions, through which a right of way for the extension has been drawn. The road will run as far as the proposed Point Possession subdivision, 26.5 miles from Captain Cook.
The borough must pay the "up front" costs of the Phase 1 work and then request reimbursement payments from the Federal Highway Administration, according to the memorandum of the agreement. Some $1.25 million has been earmarked.
Although the agreement names no specific percentage to be paid by the federal government, it does include a clause indicating that the parties the feds and the borough "expect that it will be 80 percent ($1 million) of the project's costs." The borough will own and maintain the road when it is completed.
But construction could be several years away. Preliminary engineering and environmental impact work could take two to four years, according to borough project manager Wayne Aderhold, who said that was based on the latest he's heard from the Alaska Department of Transportation and Public Facilities, which handles the day-to-day management duties on the project.
Aderhold said the project would require a full-blown environmental impact study, rather than the less rigorous environmental assessment that was considered a possibility earlier on in project discussions.
Following the first phase, preparation of plans and specifications, and acquisition of the right of way must be accomplished before the project can be built. If everything goes well, those phases could take another three years or so to finish, Aderhold said.
However, signing the agreement is a step forward on the long-held dream of opening the coastal territory beyond the park to development.
Some $6 million has been earmarked for the entire project. Aderhold said, but that money might only be able to build about 10 miles of the project. The borough and state will have to find more funding to complete all 26 miles.
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