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Borough matches federal roadway safety grant

Funny River Road in winter 2022.
Riley Board
Funny River Road in winter 2022.

The Kenai Peninsula Borough has signed on to match funds for a $1.2 million grant from the U.S. Department of Transportation, aimed at creating a plan for safer roads in the borough.

The borough received the grant back in February after submitting a collaborative application between the borough’s planning department and all five of the cities in the borough. The money comes from the federal bipartisan infrastructure bill, passed in late 2021, and is part of a program called “Safe Streets and Roads for All.”

The goal of the program is to reach zero deaths or serious injuries on public roads, according to the Department of Transportation.

The grant requires a 20% match from the local municipalities. The borough assembly approved a match of almost $180 thousand this week. The five cities, together, are contributing an additional $60 thousand, with each city contributing a proportional amount to the need there. Seldovia, for example, is contributing $735, while Kenai is contributing more than $21 thousand.

Together, the cities and borough are putting forth about $240 thousand for the match.

“It will be a good collaborative exercise, to work with everyone on the peninsula,” said Planning Director Robert Ruffner.

He said the money from the grant will be used to hire a consultant to assess roadway safety in the borough and create an inventory of all borough roads and pathways.

According to the ordinance passed last night, the action plan will position the borough to create safer streets and communities, and will open the borough up to future grant opportunities to improve road safety. The grant will only apply to borough- and city-managed roads, not state and federal roads.

The project is expected to take two years.

Riley Board is a Report For America participant and senior reporter at KDLL covering rural communities on the central Kenai Peninsula.
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