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Alaska doles out dollars for Port MacKenzie rail extension

Earlier this month, Alaska's Matanuska-Susitna Borough announced the state will provide $35 million for the Port MacKenzie rail extension. The borough and Alaska Railroad Corp. (ARRC) plan to build a 30- to 45-mile rail line to connect Port MacKenzie to the railroad’s mainline at a point between Meadow Lakes and north of Willow. The proposed line would accommodate freight-rail service between the port and Alaska’s interior.

The borough and ARRC have been working on the project the past two years. The state funding will help advance the project to the construction phase, borough officials said in a prepared statement.

“The first miles of rail will be built; the design and engineering of the final route will be completed, and the right of way for the route will be purchased,” said Assistant Borough Manager Elizabeth Gray.

The final route for the rail extension has not yet been identified by the Surface Transportation Board. The borough expects a final environmental impact statement to be completed in fall.

Depending on the route selected, the project is estimated to cost $250 million and be completed by 2014, borough officials said. Currently, a road/rail bi-modal loop is under construction at the port.

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