Legislature(2019 - 2020)BELTZ 105 (TSBldg)

05/08/2019 05:00 PM TRANSPORTATION

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Audio Topic
05:01:34 PM Start
05:02:24 PM HJR12
05:21:34 PM Adjourn
* first hearing in first committee of referral
+ teleconferenced
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
-- Please Note Time & Location --
Moved HJR 12 Out of Committee
-- Public Testimony --
                 HJR 12-NORTHERN RAIL EXTENSION                                                                             
5:02:24 PM                                                                                                                    
CHAIR  HUGHES announced  that the  consideration  of 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.                                                                                  
CHAIR HUGHES stated that it is timely to hear HJR 12 this year                                                                  
as opposed to next January because cycle.                                                                                       
5:02:48 PM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE DAVE  TALERICO, Alaska State  Legislature, Juneau,                                                               
sponsor  of HJR  12,  expressed appreciation  that the  committee                                                               
agreed to hear the bill this  late in the session. He agreed with                                                               
the chair that it is timely.                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE TALERICO introduced HJR 12, paraphrasing the                                                                     
following sponsor statement: [Original punctuations 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                                                                    
     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                                                                    
     This is  a project  long overdue for  Alaska and  I ask                                                                    
     for your support for this resolution.                                                                                      
5:06:55 PM                                                                                                                    
THOMAS  STUDLER,  Staff,  Representative  Dave  Talerico,  Alaska                                                               
State  Legislature,  Juneau,  summarized that  in  1914  Congress                                                               
authorized the construction of 1,000  miles of rail in Alaska and                                                               
532  miles have  yet to  be constructed.  The federal  government                                                               
owes the state the rest of that rail, he said.                                                                                  
5:07:36 PM                                                                                                                    
CHAIR HUGHES noted  that the supporting materials  said that Fort                                                               
Greely is the only military base in  the state that is not on the                                                               
rail line. She asked if the  base is unique nationally because it                                                               
does not have a second transportation route.                                                                                    
MR. STUDLER opined that it is  extremely rare for a military base                                                               
to have just  one route in and out.  "Most military installations                                                               
within the  Continental United  States have  rail and  highway or                                                               
port and highway," he said.                                                                                                     
5:08:44 PM                                                                                                                    
SENATOR SHOWER  agreed that it  is rare for  a base to  have just                                                               
one option to move equipment and  troops. Those are bases like an                                                               
Air  Force  base that  would  fly  equipment  out as  opposed  to                                                               
driving. Virtually  all Marine,  Army, and  Navy bases  have some                                                               
type of rail system to move heavy equipment in and out.                                                                         
CHAIR HUGHES  asked if Phase  I of  the rail project  crosses the                                                               
Tanana River into North Pole                                                                                                    
MR. STUDLER  clarified that  while the  bridge across  the Tanana                                                               
River is complete, it does not have rails.                                                                                      
CHAIR SHOWER  related that  part of  the joint  base plan  was to                                                               
build  rail to  move  equipment for  land-based  training so  the                                                               
Tanana Bridge has  been a critical component for a  long time. He                                                               
added that this is another part  of the Alberta to Alaska railway                                                               
5:11:27 PM                                                                                                                    
CHAIR HUGHES  noted that in  2008 the U.S. Department  of Defense                                                               
(DoD)  allocated about  $117 million  for Phase  I and  the state                                                               
contributed  $88 million  in  2010  and 2011.  She  asked if  the                                                               
expectation is  that the remaining  $650 million to  $850 million                                                               
will be federal dollars.                                                                                                        
REPRESENTATIVE TALERICO  confirmed that  was his  expectation. He                                                               
said the  DoD is starting  to recognize  that this is  a critical                                                               
piece of  infrastructure, particularly  for the  national defense                                                               
system for Fort  Greely. He reminded the members  that the Alaska                                                               
Congressional  Delegation more  than  once has  talked about  how                                                               
helpful a resolution from the  legislature is when they're trying                                                               
to secure things for Alaska. He  expressed hope that HJR 12 would                                                               
serve  as  a catalyst  to  get  critical infrastructure  to  Fort                                                               
5:13:15 PM                                                                                                                    
CHAIR HUGHES  noted that a  2013 project fact sheet  says sources                                                               
for  the funding  may include  federal and  state appropriations.                                                               
She asked if it was  his understanding that the Alaska delegation                                                               
is advocating for federal funding without a state match.                                                                        
REPRESENTATIVE TALERICO  said that's correct. "The  request would                                                               
be for full federal funding to finish the project."                                                                             
SENATOR  SHOWER said  it's important  to get  into the  five-year                                                               
funding  cycle  under  the current  administration  that  is  pro                                                               
military buildup and  spending. If funding is  approved, it would                                                               
be  unusual for  it  to  be removed  even  if the  administration                                                               
changes and the new president has a different view.                                                                             
CHAIR  HUGHES  thanked  the  sponsor  for  including  the  Alaska                                                               
Railroad  Corporation  Act  in  the packet.  She  noted  that  AS                                                               
42.45.050 adds  authorization for  the Fort Greely  extension but                                                               
there is nothing  about the extension to Delta  Junction. As this                                                               
project goes forward, that authorization  might need to be put in                                                               
statute, she said.                                                                                                              
REPRESENTATIVE  TALERICO said  he  would look  into that  because                                                               
that authorization is necessary.                                                                                                
SENATOR SHOWER asked if the  plan includes a switching station in                                                               
Delta Junction.                                                                                                                 
MR. STUDLER  said yes; the plan  is to build into  Delta Junction                                                               
with a spur into Fort Greely.                                                                                                   
CHAIR HUGHES said if that's the  case the existing statute may be                                                               
adequate.  She asked  Mr. Sullivan  if it  was his  understanding                                                               
that the remainder of the funding would come through the DoD.                                                                   
5:18:12 PM                                                                                                                    
TIM  SULLIVAN,  Director  of External  Affairs,  Alaska  Railroad                                                               
Corporation (ARRC), Anchorage, said that is the hope.                                                                           
CHAIR  HUGHES  asked  if  the  existing  statute  authorizes  the                                                               
railroad to both Delta Junction and Fort Greely.                                                                                
MR. SULLIVAN said  he would need to check the  statute but it was                                                               
always understood  that rail  to Delta Junction  was part  of the                                                               
Northern Rail Extension. If the  statute needs to be changed ARRC                                                               
would support the  changes, he said. He added  that ARRC supports                                                               
the  resolution asking  the federal  government  to complete  the                                                               
SENATOR SHOWER asked if he was aware  of any right of way or land                                                               
transfer issues that might arise and slow the project.                                                                          
MR. SULLIVAN replied the environmental  impact statement (EIS) is                                                               
complete and the  necessary rights of way have been  laid out for                                                               
the project. "I  don't see that there is going  to be any efforts                                                               
to complete the project with right of way issues."                                                                              
5:20:36 PM                                                                                                                    
CHAIR HUGHES  opened and closed  public testimony on HJR  12. She                                                               
asked the will of the committee.                                                                                                
5:21:02 PM                                                                                                                    
SENATOR SHOWER  moved to report  HJR 12, work  order 31-LS0633\A,                                                               
from  committee  with  individual  recommendations  and  attached                                                               
fiscal note(s).                                                                                                                 
CHAIR HUGHES found no objection and  HJR 12 was reported from the                                                               
Senate Transportation Standing Committee.                                                                                       

Document Name Date/Time Subjects
STRA Agenda 5.8.19.pdf STRA 5/8/2019 5:00:00 PM
HJR 12 Sponsor Statement.pdf HMLV 3/19/2019 2:00:00 PM
STRA 5/8/2019 5:00:00 PM
HJR 12
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
HJR12 Fiscal Note 3.21.19.pdf HMLV 3/21/2019 2:00:00 PM
HTRA 4/2/2019 1:00:00 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
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 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
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 Supporting Document HCR2 (2003).pdf HMLV 3/21/2019 2:00:00 PM
HTRA 4/2/2019 1:00:00 PM
STRA 5/8/2019 5:00:00 PM
HJR 12
HJR12 Supporting Document Fairbanks Chamber of Commerce 5.2.19.pdf HMLV 3/21/2019 2:00:00 PM
STRA 5/8/2019 5:00:00 PM
HJR 12