The U.S. Department of Transportation announced that it awarded a $9.1 million grant, through its 2018 Better Utilizing Investments to Leverage Developments (BUILD) grants program, to the Nenana Native Association to build a bridge in Nenana, Alaska, approximately 55 miles southwest of Fairbanks, the Daily News-Miner reports.
The project includes the construction of two permanent fixed bridges over the Nenana River and Nenana Slough, to provide year-round access between 10th Avenue in Nenana and the Nenana-Totchaket Resource Area, which include as much as 900,000 acres of agricultural land, Tanana Valley State Forest resources, University of Alaska land, and the Nenana Gas Basin exploration area. Access is currently restricted to boats in the summer or an ice bridge in the winter.
The news agency reports that, according to the DOT’s grant announcement, “The project improves economic competitiveness and quality of life by providing year-round access … reducing both travel time and cost of transporting people and goods across the waterways, both of which are important for a rural, tribal community.”
According to the news agency, Mayor Joshua Verhagen called the grant a long-awaited miracle that will “provide many good things to Nenana, including potential economic development.”
In 2012, the city of Nenana received the first of two grants from the state of Alaska totaling $9.5 million to help build a bridge. The grants funded the construction of giant, cast-concrete girders and began the process of driving pilings to support the bridge, but the city had run out of grant funds by 2016, and the project came to a standstill. Nenana also did not complete state-, city- and grant-required financial audits.
A second rural community on the Yukon River delta in Alaska, Emmonak, was awarded a 2018 BUILD Grant for $23.1 million to repair and upgrade approximately 3.5 miles of high-use service roads and build a permanent landing craft ramp and dock with as many as two berths capable of handling 500-ton barges.