Those who find themselves in and around Downtown Talkeetna late in the evening may notice a somewhat unusual sight, large trucks carrying rocks toward the river. In addition, heavy equipment can often be seen from Main Street near where the paving ends.
The trucks and equipment are part of the federally funded effort to make repairs to the Talkeetna dike. The structure was damaged by flood waters in September of 2012, and funding was approved by the Federal Emergency Management Agency earlier this year to return it to pre-flood condition.
Terry Dolan, Public Works Director for the Mat-Su Borough, says that the construction window below the surface of the river is limited, and must be done during the busy summer season. He also says that efforts are being made to minimize disruption, including doing the bulk of hauling in the overnight hours to avoid heavy pedestrian traffic during the day.
Crews are working around the clock to complete work that must be done underwater by July 15th
as required by state regulations for salmon habitat. Permits from various state agencies, the Alaska Railroad, and the Mat-Su Borough are posted just outside the construction area on B Street in Downtown Talkeetna.
While the work is designed to bring the dike back to pre-flood condition, the structure is not designed as a flood control measure. Rather, it is meant to control erosion of the riverbank near downtown. Jim Jenson, Operation and Maintenance Division Manager for the borough, says that his office has requested additional funds from the Army Corps of Engineers that he hopes would lead to flood control structures in the future.
Both the borough and its contractor say that work is proceeding on schedule, and the estimated time of completion is in mid-August.