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Rail News: Passenger Rail

Alaska Railroad, Sound Transit to host public meetings on rail projects


The Alaska Railroad Corp. (ARRC) will hold a public "scoping" meeting Jan. 26 to solicit public comments on a proposed project to reduce grade crossings along an eight-mile section of the Eielson Branch track, which runs from Richardson Highway to the Chena River Floodway through the city of North Pole.

The project is designed is to enhance public safety in downtown North Pole and improve operational efficiency, while ensuring continued rail access to existing and future customers along the branch line, according to ARRC officials.

In cooperation with the Federal Railroad Administration, the railroad is initiating an environmental assessment and associated preliminary engineering to analyze options, which may include realigning the section of track on or along the Tanana River levee. The existing crossing of the Richardson Highway may also be removed and replaced by a new grade-separated crossing. The proposed project is the first phase of a planned larger realignment project known as the Fairbanks area rail line relocation.

In particular, the project team is seeking public comments on current use of the Tanana River levee and locations of key access points. The deadline for submitting comments is Feb. 28.

Meanwhile, Sound Transit is hosting five open houses this month to solicit public comments on possible improvements to Sounder Station. The agency is conducting a station access study to identify potential ways to improve commuters' access to the busy south line commuter-rail stations.

Possible station enhancements include increased parking, new pedestrian sidewalks and bridges, bicycle commute options and transit facility improvements.

The meetings will be held Jan. 18, 19, 20, 25, 26 and 27.

The study is part of the ST2 regional transit-funding package that voters approved in November 2008.