Sullivan, Young Announce $925 Million in Federal Investments for Alaska

Funding Includes $250 Million for Port of Nome, $364 Million for Barrow Coastal Storm Damage Reduction

WASHINGTON—U.S. Senator Dan Sullivan and Congressman Don Young (both R-Alaska) today welcomed significant new federal investments in major Alaska infrastructure priorities, secured by years of work through the passage of various Water Resources Development Acts(WRDA), advocacy with the Army Corps of Engineers (Corps), congressional hearings, and the bipartisan Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act signed into law last year. The allocations, announced by the Corps, include $250 million for the Port of Nome, $364 million for construction of the Barrow Coastal Storm Damage Reduction Project, $185 million for the flood diversion project in Lowell Creek near Seward, $28 million for the Kenai River Coastal Erosion Project, and $88 million for upgrades to the Moose Creek Dam near North Pole. Total appropriations announced by the Corps today for Alaska amount to nearly $925 million—funding for projects that both Sen. Sullivan, as a member of the Senate Environment and Public Works (EPW) Committee, and Congressman Young, as a member of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, have relentlessly championed for years. 

“Alaska is a resource-rich, but infrastructure-poor state,” said Sen. Sullivan. “Since serving as a senator for Alaska, I’ve been advocating for projects that will help our state realize its full economic potential, keep our citizens safe, and strengthen our national security. These projects have been years in the making, and today’s announcement represents significant progress toward those goals. I’m glad to have worked closely with Congressman Young, along with our communities, for the betterment of Alaska. I will be pressing the Corps and the administration to make sure these federal dollars go to Alaska workers and contractors who know how to build our state better than anyone.”

“Last week, when I announced $25 million in funding for Denali's road system, I noted that this was just the beginning of historic investments from the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law arriving in Alaska. Today, I am excited to announce further support for Alaska made possible under this law. This vital funding includes $250 million for the Port of Nome; $185 million for the Lowell Creek flood diversion project in Seward; $88 million for the Moose Creek Dam Project in North Pole; and $28 million for the Kenai Bluffs Stabilization Project,” said Congressman Young. “Alaskans know just how critical these projects are for economic growth, global competitiveness, and national security. I am proud to have helped move the infrastructure bill in the House, and I thank our federal partners for recognizing the great need for safe, reliable infrastructure in our state.”

In their respective roles on the EPW Committee and the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, Sen. Sullivan and Rep. Young were instrumental in carrying the Nome Deep Draft Port Project through major legislative milestones going back multiple Congresses.

“Using my seat in the Senate Environment and Public Works and Armed Services Committees, I’ve been focused on legislative action and results for the Port of Nome in several different WRDA bills, making sure this is the Corps’ and the Department of Defense’s top priority,” said Sen. Sullivan. “I’ve been making the case for years on the need to establish greater American presence in the Arctic—vessels, personnel, and ports—as America’s strategic rivals lay claim to this important region. The Port of Nome is poised to be that epicenter of America’s marine presence in the Arctic, and this $250 million dollar investment is a critical milestone in making America’s first strategic Arctic port a reality. In addition to bolstering our national security interests, this project will lead to greater economic opportunities for residents of Northwest Alaska.”  

“Alaska's ports are critical, both to our economy and our state's connection to the rest of the world. The Port of Nome expansion project is a vital effort as we work to construct the nation's first deep draft port located in the Arctic. Through this expansion, Alaska will better serve the nation's future defense and commercial needs in an ever-evolving region. I have long supported this important effort and worked hard to ensure the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law would provide needed support for the project” said Congressman Young. “Today's $250 million federal investment is game-changing news for the Port's expansion and a positive development as we push to bolster American leadership in the Arctic. I am grateful for the hard work of the Alaska Delegation on this issue and look forward to continuing to work with the Army Corps of Engineers and local leaders to see the project across the finish line.”

Nome Port timeline 

  • Water resource projects developed by the Corps undergo a multi-stage process. Standard Corps project delivery consists of the Corps leading the study, design, and construction of authorized projects. However, each stage of that process must qualify for an existing authorization or receive a separate authorization from Congress, as well as receive congressional appropriation at each stage to proceed. Congress authorizes the Corps’actions through periodic Water Resource Development Acts in the EPW Committee and the House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure.  
  • In 2012, the Corps launched the Alaska Deep Draft Arctic Port System Study to evaluate potential locations on the northern and western coasts of Alaska, and to determine the feasibility of constructing navigation improvements as part of a larger system of port facilities in the Arctic and sub-Arctic region. Following the selection of Nome as the location for an Arctic port, the Corps began a feasibility study, assessing the costs of the port versus the benefits. The Corps paused the feasibility study following the departure of Shell Oil Company from the Arctic, which significantly tipped the cost-benefit ratio against the port project. 
  • In the 2016 Water Infrastructure Improvements for the Nation (WIIN) Act, Sen. Sullivan and Rep. Young included two provisions to justify a potential Arctic port based on its value to surrounding communities and its importance to national security. 
  • In 2017, following enactment of the WIIN Act, senior Corps leaders committed to Sen. Sullivan and Rep. Young to utilitze the new authorities to restart the feasibility study for the port.
  • On February 2, 2018, the City of Nome and the Corps initiated a cost-sharing agreement.
  • On October 23, 2018, President Trump signed the America’s Water Infrastructure Act(AWIA), which included Sullivan-Young language to expedite completion of a Corps feasibility study for the Nome port. 
  • On May 29, 2020, the Corps announced the completion of the chief’s report for the Port of Nome Modification Feasibility Study, making the project eligible for congressional authorization and funding. 
  • In December of 2020, President Trump signed the Water Resources Development Act (WRDA) of 2020, which included language, championed by Sullivan and Young, authorizing $379 million for the federal share of the Nome Deep Draft Port Project.

Barrow Coastal Storm Damage Reduction Project background

The people of Utqia?vik lost the ocean seawall that protects parts of the community’s downtown area due to coastal storms in 2018. The lack of coastal protection for Utqia?vik jeopardizes lives and threatens the integrity of the Old Barrow Landfill and critical community infrastructure, including the community’s only fresh water source. The community has been spending millions of dollars every year to build temporary dirt berms to protect the city. 

On September 14, 2020, the Corps executed a design agreement with the North Slope Borough, securing funds for the planning, engineering and design phase of the project. The plan would reduce the risk of storm damages to approximately five miles of coastline using rock revetment at the bluff area, and raising and reverting Stevenson Street. The funding announced today to reinforce the community’s seawall follows a visit Brigadier General Kirk Gibbs, commander of the Corps’ Pacific Ocean Division, made to Utqia?vik with Sen. Sullivan in August of 2021. During the visit, General Gibbs spent two days meeting with community, business and Alaska Native leaders. 

Lowell Creek Project background

The Lowell Creek Flood Diversion System, built by the Corps in 1940 to divert flow from the creek and prevent flooding in Seward, is badly damaged and suffers from major design faults. In 2007, the Corps was directed to determine the feasibility of an alternative method of flood diversion. In May of 2021, the Corps’ chief of engineers completed a report on an alternative structure, but such a project would still take years to be built and protect the community. 

Sen. Sullivan and Rep. Young worked over multiple congressional water infrastructure reauthorizations, known as the Water Resources Development Acts (WRDA), to ensure the Corps would not transfer responsibility for the project to the City of Seward, which cannot afford the project. In the 2020 WRDA, Sullivan and Young included language extending the Corps’ responsibility to maintain the integrity of the existing flood diversion system until an alternative structure or modifications that mitigate the severe flood risk are completed. On the House side, Congressman Young successfully secured a separate $3 million FY 2022 appropriation for the Lowell Creek Project. 

Additional funding announced

  • $3,335,000 for the planning engineering and design of the Elim Subsistence Harbor Project.
  • $50,000 for the Pilot Point Storm Damage Reduction (Sec 103) feasibility study.
  • $50,000 for the Pilot Point Navigation Project (Sec 107) feasibility study.
  • $350,000 for the Hyder Small Boat Harbor (Sec 107) feasibility study.
  • $50,000 for the planning, engineering and design of the Petersburg Harbor, Dredging and Channeling Improvements (Sec 107).
  • $186,000 for a Talkeetna Flood Risk Management (SEC 205) feasibility study.
  • $90,000 for the Chena River Lakes/Moose Creek Dam, including a recreation vault restroom at the swimming pond.
  • $4,300,000 for rock erosion protection for the seaward side of the Ninilchik Harbor.
  • $50,000 for dredging surveys in St. Paul, Alaska. 

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