Alaska Department of Transportation & Public Facilities: Kivalina Evacuation and School Site Project

Alaska DOT&PF’s Kivalina Evacuation and School Site Access project keeps the community safe in the face of weather emergencies, while allowing its residents to remain on their native soil.

Kivalina is a barrier island off the westernmost coast and residents—96 percent of which are Inupiat—are feeling the impact of climate change. In October 2007, debris-laden storm waves overtopped the island. Only small planes and boats could conduct rescue operations in the dead of night, as the island does not connect to the state’s contiguous highway system. That demonstrated the dire need for a more effective evacuation route. Therefore, ADOT&PF built a new road, bridge, and causeway that now provides residents with a safe and reliable evacuation route to a full-service community emergency shelter, available year-round.

This $43 million project solved a transportation challenge that allows the community to continue to live and thrive on their ancestral lands—critical to supporting their way of life—and allows them to make decisions about the next steps for their community.