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State secures funding to improve Kachemak Drive

A section of Kachemak Drive in filled with cracks and potholes.
Jamie Diep
A section of Kachemak Drive in filled with cracks and potholes.

Kachemak Drive is a major road in Homer that doubles as a tsunami evacuation route. It is set to undergo major reconstruction in 2026.

The road connects people living east of the city to the base of the Homer Spit. Boatyards, research reserves and wetlands surround the road. It also serves as a tsunami evacuation route, bringing people from the spit to higher ground in emergencies. With all that added traffic, many residents say Kachemak Drive — with its countless potholes and cracks — was overdue for improvements.

Rep. Sarah Vance of, R-Homer, said the Alaska Department of Transportation and Public Facilities provided funding for pavement preservation on the road. But, she said some residents believe more needs to be done on top of pavement work.

“I've asked the Department of Transportation to do deeper work that would provide for drainage, so that the road wouldn't be torn up, you know, by winter,” she said.

Justin Shelby is an administrative operations manager with the Department of Transportation for the state’s central region. He said the road has more issues beneath the surface.

“There's some structural issues with Kachemak Drive that go beyond what we can address with, you know, just doing some pavement preservation,” he said.

The additional work requires millions more in funding than what the project currently has. Vance said she worked with the DOT to secure federal funding through the Promoting Resilient Operations for Transformative, Efficient, and Cost-saving Transportation, or PROTECT, grant program.

“What I advocated for was the additional funding, emphasizing that Kachemak Drive is a tsunami evacuation route,” she said, “and with partnership of DOT, they were able to find the PROTECT grant that provided the additional money to do the subsurface work.”

The $6.65 million reconstruction project for Kachemak Drive is part of the Statewide Transportation Improvement Program, or STIP. The STIP includes projects to develop and preserve ground and water infrastructure.

More work is still needed before construction begins. Shelby said the project is still in the design phase. If things stay on track, he says construction should begin in 2026.

In an email, one of Vance’s staff said until then, the department will look into short term resurfacing work for the road.

Jamie Diep is a reporter/host for KBBI from Portland, Oregon. They joined KBBI right after getting a degree in music and Anthropology from the University of Oregon. They’ve built a strong passion for public radio through their work with OPB in Portland and the Here I Stand Project in Taipei, Taiwan.Jamie covers everything related to Homer and the Kenai Peninsula, and they’re particularly interested in education and environmental reporting. You can reach them at to send story ideas.
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