Federal funds could help Astoria with flooding, landslides

Oregon Coast

A community project with thousands in federal funding is what Astoria city officials hope for

ASTORIA, Ore. (KOIN) – As the Oregon coast deals with landslides and a potential major earthquake, Astoria officials are hoping federal funds can put their mind at ease.

U.S. Rep. Suzanne Bonamici is requesting $902,500 in funding for a landslide mitigation project in Astoria that would help protect a neighborhood from common winter flooding or the Big One — the Cascadia Subduction Earthquake that would impact a 600-mile fault located 70-100 miles off the West Coast of North America.

It would reduce potential landslides by improving drainage in high elevation forested areas. This includes protecting 32 homes from potential loss and another 69 homes from partial damage.

“I was looking for projects that would benefit communities, create jobs, keep people safe,” said Bonamici. “As the representative of the north coast, it’s important to prepare for issues like landslides. We’ve already seen this in Astoria this winter.”

Last January, a home on Alameda Avenue in Astoria was brought down by a landslide, which was one of two major landslide events from the past year in the area.

Astoria Mayor Bruce Jones says the town has “significant” critical infrastructure needs.

A home in Astoria that was brought down by a landslide.

“The hillsides of Astoria are riddled with slide zones, so we have a lot of issues with slides damaging homes, water lines and our sewer lines needing repair,” he explained. “These federal funds are going to improve the stormwater systems to improve drainage from those slide zones, which makes them much less prone to sliding after heavy rains.”

Jones added that the city has a water system master plan, which features a long list of upcoming infrastructure needs. He says this project was at the top of the list.

The city will have to match 25% of funding while the federal government picks up the rest of the bill.

“It’s important to have some federal funding because the local communities just can’t bear the burden on their own,” said Bonamici.

The landslide mitigation project in Astoria is one of 70 submitted to the congresswoman for potential federal funding. Bonamici says she evaluated the projects based on eligibility, community support, job creation, equity and geographic diversity.

The community project is now included in the U.S. Department of Homeland Security subcommittee appropriations bill. It still needs to pass in the House and Senate, but Bonamici said this is a ‘critical’ step forward.

Recently, the representative also secured close to $20 million for projects in northwest Oregon as part of the INVEST in America Act. It provides $715 billion to make critical updates on roads, bridges and public transit.

“I was very excited to see the investments being made in in the Pacific Northwest in the transportation infrastructure bill that passed the House,” she said. “We still need to get it over the finish line in the Senate, but we’ll do everything we can because there’s a lot of need out there for these investments in our local communities.”

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