Legislature(2019 - 2020)GRUENBERG 120

03/19/2019 02:00 PM MILITARY & VETERANS' AFFAIRS

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* first hearing in first committee of referral
+ teleconferenced
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
*+ HJR 12 NORTHERN RAIL EXTENSION TELECONFERENCED
Heard & Held
-- Public Testimony --
+ Bills Previously Heard/Scheduled TELECONFERENCED
+= HB 71 STATE PERSONNEL ACT: VETERANS' EXPERIENCE TELECONFERENCED
Moved HB 71 Out of Committee
                 HJR 12-NORTHERN RAIL EXTENSION                                                                             
                                                                                                                                
2:05:58 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR LEDOUX announced  that the next order of  business would be                                                               
HOUSE JOINT RESOLUTION  NO. 12, Supporting the  completion of the                                                               
Northern  Rail Extension;  supporting the  increase in  defensive                                                               
capabilities  at   Fort  Greely,  Alaska;  and   encouraging  the                                                               
development of critical Arctic infrastructure.                                                                                  
                                                                                                                                
2:06:22 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE   DAVE   TALERICO,   Alaska   State   Legislature,                                                               
paraphrased  from the  Sponsor  Statement,  which read  [original                                                               
punctuation provided]:                                                                                                          
                                                                                                                                
     Completing the  Northern Rail Extension to  Fort Greely                                                                    
     and Delta  Junction would support  Military operations,                                                                    
     mining, and agricultural in the Interior of Alaska.                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
     In  the  Act  of   1914,  the  United  States  Congress                                                                    
     authorized the  construction of  a railroad  in Alaska.                                                                    
     The railroad  was to connect  one or more  open harbors                                                                    
     in  Alaska, with  the Interior  of  Alaska, to  develop                                                                    
     agricultural and  mineral resources of Alaska,  and the                                                                    
     settlement  of  people  on  public  lands  therein,  to                                                                    
     provide  transportation  of  fuels  for  the  Military,                                                                    
     transporting  troops, arms,  munitions,  the mail,  and                                                                    
     other  governmental and  public  uses.   Unfortunately,                                                                    
     that dream was never realized.                                                                                             
                                                                                                                                
     The Alaska  Railroad Transfer Act  (ARTA) of  1983, the                                                                    
     U.S. Congress  again recognized  the importance  of the                                                                    
     railroad  in  providing   freight  and  passenger  rail                                                                    
     service   to  Alaska.     Congress   also  found   that                                                                    
     continuation  of services  and the  expansion of  those                                                                    
     services are  necessary to achieve Federal,  State, and                                                                    
     private  objectives.   The State's  continued operation                                                                    
     together with expansion of  the railroad constitutes an                                                                    
     appropriate  public  use  of the  rail  system.    Once                                                                    
     again, the dream of expansion was unrealized.                                                                              
                                                                                                                                
     Finally, in  2013, almost one hundred  years later, the                                                                    
     Northern   rail  expansion   was  proposed   by  Alaska                                                                    
     Railroad   in  conjunction   with  the   Department  of                                                                    
     Defense,  the four  phased plan  was completed.   Phase                                                                    
     one,  Crossing the  Tanana River,  was completed.   The                                                                    
     remaining three  phases need to be  accomplished before                                                                    
     we  can   realize  completion  of  the   Northern  rail                                                                    
     expansion.                                                                                                                 
                                                                                                                                
     With the  expansion of the Fort  Greely missile complex                                                                    
     and expanded training  ranges, increased agriculture in                                                                    
     Delta Junction, and increased  mining operations in the                                                                    
     area.        This    resolution    supports    critical                                                                    
     infrastructure    development,    national    security,                                                                    
     economic development, and  natural resource development                                                                    
     in the  State of Alaska.   The Northern  Rail Extension                                                                    
     project would  provide essential freight  and passenger                                                                    
     service  to support  transportation and  mobility needs                                                                    
     of the region.                                                                                                             
                                                                                                                                
     This is  a project  long overdue for  Alaska and  I ask                                                                    
     for your support for this resolution.                                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
                                                                                                                                
2:11:07 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE JACKSON asked why this project was never                                                                         
completed and whether there were any objections for completion.                                                                 
                                                                                                                                
2:11:26 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
THOMAS  STUDLER,  Staff,  Representative  Dave  Talerico,  Alaska                                                               
State  Legislature, explained  that  the initial  funding by  the                                                               
Department of  Defense had been  for completion of the  bridge so                                                               
the  military  could access  the  training  areas in  the  Tanana                                                               
Flats.   He reported that  the second  phase was intended  to lay                                                               
rail across the bridge, the third  phase was intended to lay rail                                                               
to Delta,  and the fourth phase  was intended to come  across the                                                               
river into Delta Junction and Fort Greely.                                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  JACKSON  asked  if, after  the  initial  funding,                                                               
there had been an intention for completion of the project.                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
MR. STUDLER replied that he was  not aware for the reasons to the                                                               
lack of  follow through by the  Department of Defense.   He added                                                               
that this was  the reason for the proposed  resolution asking the                                                               
Department of Defense to provide the funding.                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
2:13:03 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE TARR  asked if  Phase one and  Phase two  had been                                                               
completed.                                                                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
MR.  STUDLER, in  response,  explained that  Phase  one had  been                                                               
completed  with the  construction  of the  access  route and  the                                                               
bridge, and  that the yet  to be completed  Phase two was  to lay                                                               
the  rail  on that  access  route  from  Eielson Air  Force  Base                                                               
through  Salcha, across  the  river,  to a  staging  area on  the                                                               
training  grounds.    He  added  that Phase  3  was  intended  to                                                               
complete the 38 miles of rail  from the staging area to Delta and                                                               
that Phase 4 was to go  back across the river into Delta Junction                                                               
and Fort Greely.                                                                                                                
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE TARR  shared her  understanding that the  Feed and                                                               
Fertilizer  Coop  in Delta  Junction  had  been built  where  the                                                               
railway had been intended to allow for rail shipments.                                                                          
                                                                                                                                
2:14:58 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE RAUSCHER  asked if  the right  of way  had already                                                               
been purchased for the project.                                                                                                 
                                                                                                                                
MR.  STUDLER explained  that, as  the right  of way  was military                                                               
land, the access had already been granted to the railroad.                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
2:15:34 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  JACKSON  asked  if   this  project  would  affect                                                               
private property owners.                                                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
MR. STUDLER offered his belief that this would not be the case                                                                  
as the access across the river was directly into Fort Greely and                                                                
there was not any private property affected.                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
2:16:22 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
The committee took a brief at-ease.                                                                                             
                                                                                                                                
2:17:52 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR LEDOUX opened public testimony.                                                                                           
                                                                                                                                
2:18:10 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR LEDOUX closed public testimony.                                                                                           
                                                                                                                                
2:18:31 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE TALERICO thanked the committee for hearing the                                                                   
resolution.                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
2:18:47 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR LEDOUX said that HJR 12 would be held over.                                                                               

Document Name Date/Time Subjects
HJR12 verA.pdf HMLV 3/19/2019 2:00:00 PM
HMLV 3/21/2019 2:00:00 PM
STRA 5/8/2019 5:00:00 PM
HJR 12
HJR 12 Sponsor Statement.pdf HMLV 3/19/2019 2:00:00 PM
STRA 5/8/2019 5:00:00 PM
HJR 12
HJR 12 Supporting Document ARCA_October_2012.pdf HMLV 3/19/2019 2:00:00 PM
HMLV 3/21/2019 2:00:00 PM
STRA 5/8/2019 5:00:00 PM
HJR 12
HJR12 Additional Documents Alaska Rail Act of 1914.pdf HMLV 3/19/2019 2:00:00 PM
HMLV 3/21/2019 2:00:00 PM
STRA 5/8/2019 5:00:00 PM
HJR 12
HJR 12 Supporting Document ARTA_2005.pdf HMLV 3/19/2019 2:00:00 PM
HMLV 3/21/2019 2:00:00 PM
STRA 5/8/2019 5:00:00 PM
HJR 12
HJR 12 RR Northern Rail Extension Project Scope.pdf HMLV 3/19/2019 2:00:00 PM
HMLV 3/21/2019 2:00:00 PM
STRA 5/8/2019 5:00:00 PM
HJR 12