Behind-the-scenes work on North Shore Levee progressing

Behind the scenes, progress is being made on the North Shore Levee, which when completed would remove more than 3,000 properties from the current FEMA floodplain map for Hoquiam and Aberdeen and from federal flood insurance requirements.

Hoquiam City Administrator Brian Shay told the City Council Monday that “the North Shore Levee is making steady progress” in terms of securing the necessary property acquisitions and easements.

Work continues on determining the final alignment of the 5.7-mile-long flood protection barrier. That work, and the expenses related to easement acquisition, are expected to be covered by funding already secured for the project, and Shay said if there are expenses related to easements, they would not come at the expense of the city.

“We’ve had several conference calls with federal and state agencies trying to nail down construction funding,” said Shay, adding major phase construction could begin in 2021. Construction of the levee is expected to cost in the $70-$80 million range. Potential construction funding sources include the Office of the Chehalis Basin, the Department of Ecology, the Department of Commerce, the county and the Legislature.

The City Council Monday approved an agreement with the City of Aberdeen, formalizing the cities’ cooperation on easement acquisition and allowing Shay and/or Mayor Ben Winkelman to sign all easement offer letters and execute all final easement documents necessary for the construction of the levee.

The agreement includes the following provisions:

• The City of Aberdeen will remain the funding nexus and fiscal agent of state, federal, or other outside funding awarded to the project.

• With the exception of the Fry Creek Pump Station, all finished improvements related to the project will be owned, maintained, and operated by the city in whose boundaries that improvement is located. Shay told the City Council that the cities have agreed to share the responsibility to maintain the Fry Creek Pump Station due to its location on the border of the two cities, with details to be decided later.

• A master plan for development of the site, including phasing and cost estimates, shall be approved by each party prior to being implemented. Methods of financing development and a construction management plan shall be approved by each of the parties prior to being implemented.

• The parties will continue to cooperate together and with all others in seeking grants and other sources of funding for the Project.