The Port MacKenzie Rail Extension is slated to receive $57 million from the Alaska Legislature, among funding for other MAT-SU projects.
Matanuska-Susitna Borough Mayor Talis Colberg commended the State Delegation for securing $132 million in total state appropriations for Alaska’s fastest growing community.
“I appreciate the hard work of the entire Delegation, especially from Rep. Bill Stoltze, who was instrumental in shepherding the legislation for the rail project,” Colberg said.
“Additionally, we appreciate Sen. Charlie Huggins’ leadership to bring back major transportation infrastructure funding to the Borough. His work will result in safer roads and bridges, reduced congestion, and a more vibrant local economy,” the Mayor said.
Colberg highlighted why state leaders cannot afford to ignore this new stretch of rail to tidewater.
“Port MacKenzie Rail elevates Port MacKenzie into one of the most important transportation and industrial assets in Alaska,” Colberg said. “The rail will open up Alaska to significant international trade and investment opportunities in the Pacific Rim.”
The rail will create some 2,000 rail construction jobs and some 3,000 mining and spinoff jobs. The 1.6 billion ton limestone deposit near Livengood creates an excellent business case for a world-class cement manufacturing plant. The projected value of mineral production from Delta Junction to Port Mackenzie could reach $1 billion a year over 100 years. Revenues to the state, alone, are expected to be $300 million annually. These figures are generated by studies available on the Borough’s economic webpage.
The MAT-SU gains, but so does the state. Business leaders and officials across the state are backing the Port MacKenzie Rail spur because of its far-reaching statewide benefits.
Supportive resolutions have been passed by the Fairbanks Chamber of Commerce, the Denali Borough, the Greater Palmer Chamber of Commerce, and the Greater Wasilla Chamber of Commerce. Denali Borough Mayor David Talerico commends the project for the jobs it will create. CH2M Hill Vice President Bob Lacher sees it as a missing infrastructure link for sealift module fabrication. Natural resources columnist Tim Bradner sees the rail line as one of the answers to diversifying our state’s economy beyond dwindling oil flow. Former Anchorage Mayor Rick Mystrom has been working with the Borough, helping the public understand the statewide economic significance of the project.