FAIRBANKS - The Nenana Native Association has been awarded a $9.1 million grant to complete a long-awaited bridge project in the Alaska town of Nenana.
The U.S. Department of Transportation announced last week the funding to construct two permanent fixed bridges over the Nenana River and Nenana Slough, the Fairbanks Daily News-Miner reported Sunday.
The project will provide year-round access between Nenana and the Nenana-Totchaket Resource Area, which includes about 1,400 square miles of agricultural land, Tanana Valley State Forest resources, University of Alaska land and the Nenana Gas Basin exploration area.
Access to the area is currently restricted to boats in the summer and an ice bridge in the winter. Nenana is about 55 miles southwest of Fairbanks.
"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," the Department of Transportation said in documents announcing the award
The federal documents do not give a timetable or stipulations for work.
Nenana Mayor Joshua Verhagen said the town won't be involved in managing the grant, but it owns the right of way and permits. It will also own the bridge.
The town of Nenana was awarded the first of two state grants totaling $9.5 million in 2012, funding the construction of giant girders and support pilings. The project stalled in 2016 when the funding dried up.
The Nenana Native Association did not respond to the newspaper’s requests for comment.