Legislature(1993 - 1994)
01/18/1994 05:00 PM TRA
* first hearing in first committee of referral
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
HOUSE TRANSPORTATION STANDING COMMITTEE January 18, 1994 5:00 p.m. MEMBERS PRESENT Representative Richard Foster, Chair Representative Gary Davis, Vice-Chair Representative Eldon Mulder Representative Al Vezey Representative Bill Hudson MEMBERS ABSENT Representative Curt Menard Representative Jerry Mackie COMMITTEE CALENDAR HB 184: "An Act making a special appropriation to the Department of Transportation and Public Facilities to determine the cost of acquiring real property within the right-of-way of the proposed extension of the Alaska Railroad from Eielson Air Force Base to the Alaska-Canada border; and providing for an effective date." MOVED FROM COMMITTEE WITNESS REGISTER REPRESENTATIVE JEANNETTE JAMES Alaska State Legislature Room 501, State Capitol Juneau, Alaska 99811 465-3743 Position Statement: Sponsor of SSHB 184. SCHUYLER STEVENS, Director Design & Construction Department of Transportation and Public Facilities 3132 Channel Drive Juneau, Alaska 99801-7898 465-6977 Position Statement: Available to answer questions regarding SSHB 184. PREVIOUS ACTION BILL: HB 184 SHORT TITLE: APPRO: AK RAILROAD EXTENSION STUDY SPONSOR(S): REPRESENTATIVE(S) JAMES,Therriault,Olberg JRN-DATE JRN-PG ACTION 02/25/93 456 (H) READ THE FIRST TIME/REFERRAL(S) 02/25/93 456 (H) TRANSPORTATION, FINANCE 04/06/93 (H) TRA AT 05:00 PM CAPITOL 17 04/13/93 (H) TRA AT 05:00 PM CAPITOL 17 04/13/93 (H) MINUTE(TRA) 04/15/93 (H) TRA AT 05:00 PM CAPITOL 17 04/15/93 (H) MINUTE(TRA) 04/20/93 (H) TRA AT 05:00 PM CAPITOL 17 01/18/94 (H) TRA AT 05:00 PM CAPITOL 17 ACTION NARRATIVE TAPE 94-1, SIDE A Number 000 CHAIR FOSTER called the meeting to order at 5:10 p.m. He introduced REPRESENTATIVE JEANNETTE JAMES as the sponsor of SSHB 184, and thanked her for attending, adding that he hoped the committee would move SSHB 184 out. Number 017 REPRESENTATIVE JAMES introduced SSHB 184 by stating: "This legislation is to determine the cost of acquiring property within the right-of-way of the proposed extension of the Alaska Railroad from Eielson AFB to the Canadian border. The status of land ownership along the proposed corridor was established in an earlier study. The federal government enacted the Alaska Railroad Enabling Act of 1914 to ensure rail development within the state of Alaska. The enabling legislation has led directly to the recommendation of development of a railroad extension from Eielson AFB to the Canadian border. The Railroad Act of 1914 also was very specific in setting aside the long-term goal of railroad construction in accordance with settlement patterns in Alaska and development of Alaska's resources. "Railroad development today is every bit as important for the same reasons that existed in 1914. Today, Alaska settlement patterns are expanded from those in that particular era. However, it is significant that the Alaska railroad has helped maintain approximately 3/4 of the state's population along the railbelt from Whittier/Seward area to Anchorage and then to Fairbanks/Eielson area. "Alaska will benefit from railroad expansion, when it is built using the corridor we're establishing in this House bill. Through its proposed incorporation into a transcontinental railroad link, through the provision of rail transportation to the ports of Alaska, we'll make resource development possible in the area suitable for production, which have until now been marginal because of the high transportation cost. "Studies on a proposed transcontinental railroad link have developed a common denominator on transportation coming into Alaska, originating east of the Rockies and are thus candidates for the proposed Alaska railroad extension and transcontinental rail link. The commonly accepted figure for goods originating east of the Rockies is 24 percent of all goods received in Alaska. The most recent figures that I can validate were from 1978, and I am certain that they will continue to be significant. The status of land ownership along the proposed rail corridor has been established in an earlier study. "The gist of this legislation is to determine the cost of acquiring railroad property within the right-of-way of the proposed extension of the Alaska Railroad form Eielson AFB to the Canadian border. The right-of-way will be amended to be a multi-modal land use corridor for both pipelines and transmission lines. "In summation, opening the multi-modal land use corridors from east to west is a critical event in the maturation of our transportation economy and can provide inexpensive transportation of our resources to the place where value can be added, the products enhanced, or delivered to the ultimate destination point." REPRESENTATIVE JAMES invited questions from the committee. Number 093 REPRESENTATIVE JAMES mentioned two other bills she was sponsoring which involve putting rail across Alaska. One of them, HB 182, delineates a railroad corridor from Fairbanks to Nome or into the Seward Peninsula. She said this bill passed out of the House Transportation Committee last session and was scheduled to be heard in House Finance Committee on Friday, January 21, 1994. REPRESENTATIVE JAMES stated that the other bill, HB 183, seeks the appropriation of funds to delineate the above corridor. REPRESENTATIVE JAMES expressed confidence that there is a lot of support for having rail east-west in Alaska, and to provide controlled access to the state's people and resources. Number 105 CHAIR FOSTER thanked Representative James for her interest in railroads and their expansion throughout Alaska. Number 108 REPRESENTATIVE VEZEY expressed confusion over whether the bill before him was the sponsor substitute for HB 184 or whether it was the original bill. REPRESENTATIVE JAMES indicated that it was the sponsor substitute for HB 184, as written on the bill face. Number 120 REPRESENTATIVE G. DAVIS asked Representative James if she knew what the width of the proposed right-of-way would be. REPRESENTATIVE JAMES said she believed the width was 300 feet, to which other committee members concurred after reading the text of the bill. Number 130 REPRESENTATIVE MULDER commended Representative James' efforts. Number 135 CHAIR FOSTER made note of the Department of Transportation's (DOT) position paper, and asked SCHUYLER STEVENS if he had anything he wanted to add. Number 137 SCHUYLER STEVENS, Director, Design & Construction, Department of Transportation and Public Facilities (DOT/PF), indicated he had nothing to add other than that the Department was entirely supportive of SSHB 184 and would be able to do the job for the monies sought by the bill. REPRESENTATIVE HUDSON made a motion to move SSHB 184 out with individual recommendations. CHAIR FOSTER asked if there was any objection. There was none. Chair Foster declared SSHB 184 to be moved out of the House Transportation Committee. Number 143 CHAIR FOSTER announced that on Thursday, January 20, 1994, SJR 29 would be discussed. Number 200 REPRESENTATIVE HUDSON notified the committee that the problem addressed by HB 237, which he was sponsoring, may have been solved and that the need for the bill was hopefully moot. Number 210 CHAIR FOSTER expressed the desire to hold a future House Transportation Committee meeting in one of the area communities, thereby utilizing the Marine Highway system and local airways. The committee members expressed enthusiasm for this idea. Number 249 CHAIR FOSTER adjourned the meeting at 5:26 p.m.