The community of Ouzinkie identified transportation access as its first
strategy in supporting long term sustainable economic development. Specifically,
marine and air transportation improvements would support a decrease in the
cost of living and business by achieving increased passenger and shipping
efficiencies. These transportation improvements would also support planned
economic development through improved access to Ouzinkie.
Ouzinkie’s unique geographic location north of Kodiak Island on the current
Alaska Marine Highway Ferry route along with its prime access to the fisheries
of Marmot Bay provide opportunities that are currently not utilized due
to insufficient transportation infrastructure that supports larger vessels
and a fishing charter fleet. The following transportation strategies and
priorities reflect Ouzinkie’s commitment to building infrastructure that
will allow its residents to fully participate in both commercial fishing
and tourism opportunities while fostering interagency collaboration.
Background for Planning Dock and Bulkhead
The current dock was built in 1964 immediately after the tsunamis generated
by the Great Alaska Earthquake destroyed the Ouzinkie waterfront. This 40
plus year old facility is an old, creosote platform dock built out of pilings.
It requires significant maintenance every year due to Ouzinkie’s severe
maritime climate. Recreosoting of pilings and redecking of the dock platform
are annual maintenance requirements. The dock itself is approximately 200
feet from Ouzinkie’s waterfront. Access is via a very narrow platform built
on creosote pilings wide enough to accommodate a passenger pick up truck.
Larger equipment must be offloaded via landing barge directly onto the Ouzinkie
beach. The dock has one small crane that does not accommodate larger loads.
The dock does not extend out enough to accommodate the deeper waters required
by larger vessels such as the Alaska State Marine Highway System’s ocean
going ferries. In summary, the current dock is old, inadequate, dangerous,
and will not support long term sustainable waterfront development and marine
access for Ouzinkie.
SIDCO, supported by the Ouzinkie Native Corporation, began preliminary planning
efforts towards the design of a new dock. Community meetings were held to
receive input as to what economic development opportunities a new dock would
present. Specifically, it was seen that a new dock would significantly lower
the cost of living and provide economic development opportunities to Ouzinkie
- Provide a marine transportation facility for the Alaska Marine Highway
System’s passenger and vehicle service with connections to the Alaska
- Provide a marine transportation facility that would accommodate
shipping for larger consumer goods that currently are brought in via
expensive landing craft.
- Support access for shore-side tourism development.
- Support access for the development of a local fish processing facility.
- Provide an alternative port for the United States Coast Guard (i.e.
homeland security proposes) and for Unites States Navy Seal Base on
Kodiak (i.e. staging area for local training exercises).
It was these discussions that spurred the community towards developing its
economic development plan. Funding was received through the U.S. Department
of Health and Human Services Administration for Native Americans Strategies
for Economic Development Program and work began on this Economic Development
Plan in the Fall of 2005.
Ouzinkie Native Corporation continued its support towards the preliminary
design of a new dock and lobbying for funding. The firm of Peratrovich,
Nottingham and Drage was engaged to review the existing dock and provide
suggestions for a new dock design. Dennis Nottingham, the engineer who pioneered
the design and use of open cell bulkheads and docks provided a preliminary
design that would create a low-maintenance facility with access to deeper
water and an additional 3 acres of usable industrial waterfront acreage.
In 2006, Mike O’Connor, Chief Executive Officer of the Ouzinkie Native Corporation,
with the support of Alaska State Representative Gabrielle LeDoux, successfully
secured $570,000 through the State of Alaska for full engineering and design
of the project. It was anticipated that monies would be received in Ouzinkie
from the State by the summer of 2007.
Small Boat Harbor
The small boat harbor includes a breakwater with berths for approximately
20 small vessels. Use of this facility is limited to commercial fishermen,
skiff owners and tourism charters. There is no road access to the vehicle
parking area or the small boat harbor and access is limited to a narrow
wooden boardwalk from the hill above. Freight and goods must be carried
by wheelbarrow up approximately 1/4 mile of wooden ramp access which in
winter is often iced over and slippery There is no handicap access to the
small boat harbor. The inability to load and unload from the small boat
harbor to road access severely restricts its use in support of economic
development activities such as sports fishing and tourism.
As work proceeded on this Economic Development Plan, it became clear that
the current airstrip and roads will also not support envisioned community
economic development. Specifically, the State of Alaska owned 2,085 gravel
airstrip constructed in the early 1980’s is unattended, requires visual
inspection for use, and does not meet current Federal Aviation Administration
standards. Additionally, the runway is too short to accommodate larger aircraft,
and its directional orientation makes it hazardous during periods of high
winds. The airport does not meet minimum safety standards as it has no runway
lights. Also, the current location of the airport impedes community growth
as it is too close to both the landfill and the hydro-electric plant.
Alaska rural communities' airports are a primary state interest for the
State of Alaska Department of Transportation (DOT). There is a separate
fund pool and a separate ranking criteria system within DOT to ensure progress
towards a systematic approach to development of air access in rural Alaska.
This system includes:
- All rural community runways will be upgraded to 3,300 feet to meet
the new aircraft fleet that is coming online throughout Alaska
- 3,300 foot runways will be used in areas in proximity to regional
hubs and/or where small populations do not meet demand for larger twin-engine
- A 4,400 foot runway is used when larger aircraft are running longer
routes, and when air transport is the primary fuel and freight delivery
Construction in 2008 is planned for a new 3,300 foot long by 75 foot wide
runway with an adjoining 150 foot runway safety area, a staging apron and
an aviation support area located approximately 1.7 miles north of Ouzinkie
in Balika Basin. The proposed airport access road will be constructed from
the existing airport near the north end of town to the new airport location.
This project will provide the opportunity for tremendous cost-savings for
other local roads projects that would otherwise not be practical from a
construction mobilization standpoint.
Road improvements would include road shaping and crowning, drainage and
culvert improvements, chip seal surfacing and dust control. The road system
is limited to a few miles of gravel roads and paths that create a high health
hazard in the dryer summer months due to dust. Ouzinkie’s soils contain
a high level of volcanic ash from the Mt. Katmai (Novarupta) volcanic eruption
of 1906. This results in a high level of silicon particulate matter in the
air when roads are dry and dust is raised.
Recent construction of the replacement sewer project in the village has
required digging up the village streets, causing damage that is not restorable
under the constraints of the village sewer and water project budget. The
net effect is excess wear and damage to not only the village utility vehicles
such as the dump truck, electric utility vehicles, fire and ambulance services,
but to the vehicles utilized by residents in the normal pursuit of personal
or vocational business. Several instances have been documented of not only
individual vehicles having cracked or broken frames, but also the heavy
equipment such as the dump truck used for the sewer project having a broken
frame. Repair of this item requires sending the equipment out of the village
on landing craft at considerable expense for repair. Individual residents
can only afford to absorb their own personal losses.
Historically, transportation facilities such as roads are the responsibility
of the 2 nd class cities, such as Ouzinkie. However, the City of Ouzinkie
has not had funding available for road improvements and repairs since original
construction in the 1970’s due to continued decrease in State of Alaska
support of small, rural communities. Current road planning, maintenance
and future construction is performed by the Native Village of Ouzinkie through
designated tribal roads programs. Generally, repairing local existing roads
will rise to the top of the list, with long-range economic development projects
and new construction coming in lower in the ranking. This is generally the
case for two reasons. One is local roads can be upgraded for a reasonable
cost through joint funding opportunities at the local, state, tribal and
federal levels. Local needs, where safety is an immediate issue rank high
in most project selection processes. Further, the new Bureau of Indian Affairs
Tribal Shares System has the ability to assign 25% of the annual tribal
shares funds on maintenance. Suddenly, small communities across the state
are able to sign needed maintenance agreements to get projects in their
villages. This is an exceptional step forward for collaborating with other
local, state, and federal transportation funding agencies.
Rock and Gravel
All transportation projects will require rock and gravel for base and fill.
In order to achieve economies of scales on the larger projects such as the
construction of an open-cell bulkhead or the planned airport access road,
Ouzinkie must prepare to access rock and gravel in sufficient amounts to
stockpile for other projects. This will require locating sources that are
available to Ouzinkie and acquiring the appropriate permits to access these
sources. As well, gravel should be stockpiled to provide availability for
all projects that require gravel and fill.
Community Planning Process
The Community had two three-day work sessions to first gain understanding
of the political and agency funding process at the federal and state levels,
and then to work through and prioritize transportation capital projects
that would support long term economic sustainability and growth in Ouzinkie.
Mr. Mike McKinnon supported and assisted these discussions. Mike worked
for 25 years as a transportation planner for the State of Alaska. He currently
provides transportation planning services through his consulting firm, McKinnon
and Associates. Mike’s report to the community is included here as Appendix
A. Ouzinkie also participated in the development of the Kodiak Archipelago’s
Rural Regional Leadership Forum’s Regional Transportation Plan. This Plan
is currently asking for a feasibility study for a regional Alaska Marine
Highway Ferry System.
Strategies and Planning
The following strategies were developed by the community and served to guide
the creation of transportation capital project priorities.
Community Developed Prioritized Transportation Capital Improvement Projects
1. Replacement Bulkhead and Dock Design. $570,000
- Development of transportation infrastructure is approached as a
collaborative effort between the City of Ouzinkie, the Native Village
of Ouzinkie, the Ouzinkie Native Corporation, and SIDCO.
- Community priorities will be reflected in the City of Ouzinkie’s
Capital Improvement Project List, the Kodiak Island Borough Comprehensive
Economic Development Strategies, and the Native Village of Ouzinkie’s
Capital Projects List.
- Ouzinkie’s transportation infrastructure will be designed to fully
support passenger and freight access to Ouzinkie.
- Marine and air services are designed to reinforce each other in
providing overall, reliable transportation services.
- Marine and Air services utilize the City of Kodiak as its regional
- Marine transport is currently limited by the size of the dock and
the lack of road access to the small boat harbor. Marine infrastructure
should be designed to support larger freight hauls and reliable, regular
passenger service to and from the Alaska mainland.
- Air transport is convenient and fast, but weather often causes interrupted
service. Freight haul by air is limited to size of airstrip. Air infrastructure
should be designed to support expedited freight hauls and regular passenger
service to and from the regional hub of Kodiak.
- For economies of scale, long-term airstrip infrastructure will be
planned to support appropriate passenger service for planned tourism
development and for the shipping of processed fish directly between
Ouzinkie and Anchorage.
- All transportation projects will be coordinated to efficiently develop
necessary construction resources such as gravel and take advantage of
- All projects will maximize the hiring of Ouzinkie residents. Ouzinkie
will work with educational agencies such as Kodiak College to have workforce
readiness for all capital projects.
- Ouzinkie supports and participates in the Kodiak Archipelago Rural
Regional Transportation Plan.
The Ouzinkie dock engineering design project was funded in 2006 and slated
to begin the summer of 2007. The design will be created to support the larger
freight vessels previously discussed and the Alaska Marine Highway Ferry
system and will include securing all necessary permits required for bulkhead
2. Replacement Dock Construction. $5,200,000
Construction costs are estimated on the preliminary designed presented below.
Construction will create additional usable staging area and industrial use
acreage to support waterfront development associated with fisheries. Maintenance
costs will be significantly lower than the existing piling dock as there
is no wood contained in the construction. Fill material will be obtained
from the adjoining hillside and local gravel quarry. It is estimated that
construction will provide seasonal jobs to Ouzinkie residents as heavy equipment
1. Small Boat Harbor to Dock Access Road Design. $350,000
This planned road would replace the current pedestrian boardwalk from the
waterfront area and the dock facility to the small boat harbor with a road.
The initial estimated amount is for reconnaissance engineering to conduct
preliminary surveying, geo technical and soils investigations, design standards
and an environmental overview and develop a detailed design and construction
cost estimate. Development of this access road would enhance economic development
in support of commercial fishing, tourism and increased ability to transport
fuel and consumer goods.
2. Harbor Parking and Access Road $50,000
This access road would replace the steep, wooden walkway from the current
parking area with a road to the boat harbor. This would extend the current
gravel road by 100 feet and include a small turnaround area for vehicles.
Estimate is for actual construction of the road extension and is currently
being planned for construction in 2007 with Bureau of Indian Affairs road
3. Local Roads Repairs and Improvements. $3,475,000
Road improvements and repairs would include road shaping and crowning, drainage
and culvert improvements, chip seal surfacing and dust control. These improvements
would improve vehicle and pedestrian safety and eliminate potholes.
4. Hydro-electric Road Repair $150,000
The present road to the hydroelectric station is currently limited to ATV
machinery. Mud, snow, and other conditions make access impassable at times.
It is anticipated that ozone treatment will be sited at the hydro-station
and will entail daily monitoring of equipment. The need is to gravel surface
the road making it suitable for four-wheel drive sized equipment.
1. New Airport Construction.
2. New Airport Access Road Construction.
Construction costs are for the new airport and access road as engineered
by the State of Alaska Department of Transportation. No amounts are given
as the Ouzinkie airport is part of the regular program of airport construction
discussed above. Construction is planned by the State of Alaska to begin
in 2008. However, Ouzinkie should coordinate the planned airport construction
with other road projects such as the Harbor Access and Parking road as well
as the location and stockpiling of rock and gravel.
Anticipated Economic Impact
- Local construction employment.
- Local housing of non-residents.
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- Marine access that supports passenger and freight service from the
Alaska Mainland, reducing significantly the cost of living in Ouzinkie.
- Marine access that supports increased tourism activity.
- Road improvements that eliminates the current health hazard presented
by road dust.
- Road improvements that allow vehicular access to the small boat
harbor and the hydro-electrical facility.
- Road improvements that allow direct access from the dock area to
the small boat harbor.