Fairbanks Daily News-Miner: Moose Creek Dam to receive flood of federal funds

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is undertaking its largest civil works project in Alaska in 30 years — reinforcing the eight-mile Moose Creek Dam in North Pole.

More than a half-century old, Moose Creek Dam is about to receive a flood of federal money that will enable the corps to complete an estimated $148 million renovation project. The modernization will strengthen the berm and protect greater Fairbanks in extreme weather events, corps officials said.

U.S. Sen. Lisa Murkowski announced Wednesday that the project is targeted for an infusion of $88 million in federal dollars to finish the project. Funds will come from the bipartisan Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act that Murkowski helped to develop and led through Congress.

“The Moose Creek Project is all about ensuring the protection of life and property in ways that are significant,” Murkowski said. “You don’t have to talk to many people around Fairbanks to be reminded of the flooding in Fairbanks.”

The dam was constructed after the Chena and Little Chena rivers flooded Fairbanks in 1967 and caused an estimated $80 million in damage. The rivers overflowed their banks in heavy rains and floodwaters poured into downtown and beyond. Many residents climbed onto the rooftops of their homes to escape the waters. Thousands were displaced until the waters receded.

In 2022, construction work on the Moose Creek Dam involves building a concrete barrier wall with depths of up to 65 feet along the embankment. Preparation work, including design, already was underway last summer. The dam will be fully functional and control the flow of water as construction is completed.

Shoring up the Moose Creek Dam is among several capital projects slated for Alaska since Congress passed the infrastructure bill. Other funding for Alaska projects includes $25 million for rebuilding Denali Park Road, $250 million for the Port of Nome, $185 million for Lowell Creek flood diversion in Seward; and $29 million for the Kenai Bluffs stabilization project.

Murkowski was a lead author and negotiator of the bipartisan infrastructure package, which became law on Nov. 15, 2021. The bill aims to improve the nation’s roads, bridges, ports, power grids and clean water systems.

“These projects are real-life, boots-on-the-ground examples of the priorities we addressed through this historic law. I’m proud of our work and thrilled by the results it is already producing for our state,” Murkowski said.

“Moose Creek Dam is a vital asset to the greater Fairbanks community,” said Col. Damon Delarosa, district commander for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. “Bringing this engineering technology to Alaska allows us to address the risks of aging infrastructure and extend the life of the dam for many years to come.”

Murkowski pointed out the benefits to the state economy from the capital projects, which will create hundreds of jobs for skilled laborers and are expected to attract more working-age adults to the state.

“We are going to need every skilled individual we can,” Murkowski said. “We in Alaska have an opportunity, a moment in time, to really help and enhance our state for everyone.”

She also noted that the $25 million slated for fortifying Denali Park Road is important for tourism at Denali National Park and Preserve and the hotels, restaurants and other businesses that support it. The money will initiate reconstruction of the park access road.

“When it comes to tourism, everyone wants to see Denali,” Murkowski said. “We need to make sure that the access road is safe and that the visitor experience is first class.”

By:  Linda Hersey
Source: Fairbanks Daily News-Miner