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Alaska Gov. Bill Walker yesterday issued an executive order to establish a task force to study the feasibility of establishing commuter-rail service between Anchorage and the Matanuska-Susitna Valley.The nine-member Commuter Rail Advisory Task Force will study initial and ongoing capital costs, expected operating costs, potential ridership, a recommended governance structure and the economic benefits of a rail service.Initial findings are due to Walker no later than May 31.The task force will draw from prior research conducted by the state's department of transportation as well as information from the Alaska Railroad Corp. and other sources.Currently, an average of 50,000 drivers commute daily on the lone ground transportation link that connects the two communities, Walker administration officials said in a press release."Anyone who drives on the Glenn Highway knows all too well that we need an alternative way to move between Alaska's two largest population centers," said Walker. "This new group will make sure our rail system is reaching its full potential."The panel's members will include mayors from the affected communities, as well as a representative from Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson and two members of the public with expertise in transportation.
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