FAIRBANKS, Alaska - CORRECTION: It was initially stated that the Nenana Native Association ran out of money to fund the project. It was actually the City of Nenana that ran out of money.
Nenana Native Association received a grant for over $9 million to build two permanent bridges across the Nenana River and Slough. This award was a part of the BUILD, or Better Utilizing Investments to Leverage Development, transportation grant program. Donald Charlie 2nd Chief of the Nenana Native Association says there are a lot of development opportunities in the Nenana-Totchaket area which this grant will allow them to access.
"For agriculture, for mining, for oil, timber, there's a lot of things over there that can be utilized in the future,” Charlie said.
BUILD grants are focused on investing in infrastructure in rural communities. Without permanent bridges, community members in Nenana have to travel by boat or ice bridges to access this area. The Department of Transportation is hoping these bridges will reduce drowning threats as well as other hazards.
"The project spoke to the secretary, it had safety implications, huge economic competitiveness, and quality of life implications,” said Finch Fulton, deputy assistant secretary on transportation policy.
This grant will complete a project that the City of Nenana ran out of money to finish.
"I'm just eager to get started and have construction. It also should benefit the community with local hire, provide jobs for the community members, and all around I think it's a positive thing that's going to happen,” Charlie said.
The Nenana Native Association has two years to finish the plans and paperwork in order to receive the funds. The city of Emmonak in Southwest Alaska also received a BUILD grant for more than $23 million for the 'Lower Yukon River Regional Port and Road Renovation Project'.