On Monday night, the Talkeetna Community Council board of directors heard that funding from the Federal Emergency Management Agency is likely to be approved soon for repairs to the Yoder Road bridge at Montana Creek and the Talkeetna dike after they were damaged by flooding in September of 2012.
Casey Cook, Emergency Manager for the borough, says that, while FEMA has not officially signed the project worksheets for the two repair projects, that prospects are good.
“Once they get back to their offices and can sign the paperwork and project worksheet, that’ll come back to the state. The state will say ‘OK’; that’ll come to us, and then we’ll be able to start doing work on that.”
Estimates of the repair costs are over two-million dollars for the training dike downstream from the Talkeetna River railroad bridge and one-point-seven million dollars for Yoder Road. Casey Cook says those estimates only include returning the structures to their pre-flood state.
“We’ve had an engineer study come in and say how much to repair it, so that’s just the repair. If FEMA comes in and adds mitigation on to that, it could be in the tens of [millions of dollars] to do that.”
Flood mitigation is a separate funding process. The Mat-Su Borough will only conduct mitigation work in areas designated as a flood control service area. Downtown Talkeetna west of the railroad tracks is currently covered by a service area, but East Talkeetna and the River Subdivision are not. Last fall, the Talkeetna Community Council conducted an advisory vote on pursuing the addition of those areas to the flood control service area. The vote passed with a margin of forty-eight for and ten against. Casey Cook says a measure for the Mat-Su Borough Assembly to put the issue on October’s ballot is in the works, when Talkeetna residents will vote again.
“That opens up the door for mitigation, and flood and erosion protection, measures taken via the borough on that side of the railroad tracks, so we’re still moving forward in that regard to be able to protect East Talkeetna, the railroad tracks, and the big, open bowl that is West Talkeetna.”
While it’s not clear exactly when work can begin on the repairs to the Talkeetna dike and Yoder Road bridge, it could be as early as this fall.