In 2006, the Alaska Department of Commerce, Community and Economic Development (DCCED) applied for and was awarded an Economic Development Administration Investment Assistance Grant for a barge landing and staging area at Mertarvik on behalf of the Newtok Traditional Council. The U.S. Department of Commerce, Economic Development Administration (EDA) was the federal funding agency for the project.
The Mertarvik Barge Landing Facility was the first significant infrastructure project to be developed at Mertarvik. This facility is critical to Newtok's relocation effort because it allows for the delivery of equipment and construction materials necessary for the development of the new village. The barge landing and staging area is also essential for the relocation of structures that may be suitable to move from the old village to Mertarvik.
DCCED partnered with the Alaska Department of Transportation and Public Facilities (DOT/PF) to see this project through from planning and design to actual construction. DOT/PF provided the State monies to match the $800 in EDA funds for this approximately $2 million project. The project was completed in 2009.
The Mertarvik Barge Landing Facility consists of a 16-foot wide by 230-foot long barge ramp/access road, and a 65 foot by 130 foot upland multi-use staging area. The project location is within a bight (or cove) on the north side of Nelson Island.
The Mertarvik Barge Landing in early construction, summer 2009. Photo: Sally Russell Cox
During construction, it became apparent that only shallow draft vessels would be able to use the landing ramp as planned. The soils underlying the Ninglick River made placing the precast concrete planks during construction extremely difficult. As a result, the completed landing ramp length is approximately 50 feet shorter than the original designed length; translating into reduced water depths for most barge operations. The decision was made to develop a secondary barge landing located approximately 500 feet to the west, where the mean lower low water line is closer to the toe of the bluff, allowing barges to land over the range of tides in the Ninglick River. Access to the site required the construction of approximately 500 feet of new access road and 35 feet of new landing area (see photo below).
The road leading to the secondary barge landing. Photo: Bob Lundell, DOT/PF
By summer 2010, the secondary barge landing and access road was completed in time for the arrival of the Army landing craft unit that suported work of the Innovative Readiness Training Program at Mertarvik.
The Innovative Readiness Training Program landing craft docked at the second barge landing. Photo: Sally Russell Cox
Division of Community and Regional Affairs
Department of Commerce, Community, and Economic Development
550 West 7th Avenue, Suite 1640
Anchorage, AK 99501
Phone: (907) 269-4588 FAX: (907) 269-4066