Design, permit phases of North Shore Levee project now fully funded

An additional $2.5 million in funding for the North Shore Levee project in Aberdeen and Hoquiam was approved by the Legislature at the end of the 2018 session, which means there is enough money to complete the design and permitting phases of the project, according to Kris Koski, Aberdeen city engineer.

Adding the supplemental budget money to the $2.1 million previously funded by the Chehalis Basin Flood Authority keeps the flood control project on pace to develop cost estimates this year to make a capital budget request for construction funds in 2019, when the design is scheduled to be complete.

“This historic project will protect families across Aberdeen and Hoquiam from floods, and will also protect and create jobs in the area, which will boost the economy,” said Rep. Brian Blake, D-Aberdeen, who made the capital budget request and secured the needed funds. “It’s a win-win, really, for everybody, and it will benefit Grays Harbor well into the future.”

Once the levee is constructed and accredited, more than 3,100 properties in Aberdeen and Hoquiam, including downtown Aberdeen, will be removed from the area that the Federal Emergency Management Agency has mapped as a Special Flood Hazard Area due to coastal flood risk. Those properties will no longer be subject to National Flood Insurance Program building code and flood insurance regulations, financial burdens that cost the community millions each year and hinder local investment, said Koski.

“I am very thankful for the Legislature’s continued support for the North Shore Levee and other important infrastructure projects in both Aberdeen and Hoquiam, as well as the rest of Grays Harbor,” said Aberdeen mayor Erik Larson. “We are a community worth investing in and the Legislature continues to acknowledge this fact.”

The North Shore Levee project includes 5.7 miles of levee between the Wishkah and Hoquiam Rivers to protect against coastal flood events, plus significant upgrades to and expansion of stormwater pump systems to improve drainage, said Koski. As the project prepares to transition to the next phase of design and permitting, the cities will continue to engage and inform the community through community meetings, stakeholder interviews, personal meetings, surveys, website updates, council meeting updates, and media releases.

“We are ecstatic to know that the Legislature believes in this project enough to allocate the amount it did,” said Hoquiam mayor Jasmine Dickhoff. “Our sincere thanks to them and specifically to Rep. Brian Blake for championing our area at such a high degree of success.”

The cities of Aberdeen and Hoquiam are committed to implementing the recommendations of the 2016 TimberWorks Master Plan, which identified investments to reduce flood risk while also achieving other benefits such as water quality improvements and habitat enhancement, as well as community and economic development, said Koski. In addition to the North Shore Levee, the Fry Creek Restoration and Flood Reduction project is a major TimberWorks project that is currently underway.

To learn more about flood relief work in Aberdeen and Hoquiam, please visit www.ezview.wa.gov/aberdeenfloodrelief.