The Port MacKenzie Rail Extension’s 32-mile embankment is closed to travel. Responsible residents do not trespass. Please stay out of the 200-foot wide right of way for the rail embankment. Check in with landowners before you go out and recreate or hunt on their lands.
The Rail Extension from Port MacKenzie to Houston is an ongoing Southcentral Alaska transportation project. Matanuska-Susitna Borough officials meet regularly with agencies and natural resource companies who look to invest in Port MacKenzie. The entire rail extension is owned by the Mat-Su Borough including the embankment, bridges, culverts, and the 200-foot wide right of way. Even the farthest north portion, Segment 6, which has a working rail siding for the Alaska Railroad, is owned by the Mat-Su Borough. See the construction map posted here.
The Rail project is 75 percent complete, and Borough officials continue to seek the remaining funding necessary to finalize the project. All the funding for the construction of Port MacKenzie Rail was garnered by State appropriation and a state general obligation bond voted on by Alaskans. No Borough tax dollars funded the design or construction of the rail embankment.
The corridor remains an active construction project. The last segment was cleared in spring 2017, however, surveyors continue to install monuments along the entire route.
There is a trail system in the Big Lake area where specific crossings of the rail corridor were created to allow for safe access to both sides of the embankment, but due to the abundance of wetlands and lakes, these are only for winter travel. Using these trails for other than winter travel will tear up the wetland-type vegetation and damage the trail.
Numerous incidents of vandalism and thefts have occurred in the last month on the embankment including: Borough rail embankment gates rammed, cut off hinges and stolen chains and locks, stolen and damaged signs, stolen barriers, deep ruts in the embankment from vehicles climbing the side slope, ruts on the top of the embankment from vehicles spinning in circles and sliding sideways. A break-in also occurred at a port lessee facility.
Because of numerous criminal violations, the Borough has recently increased patrols along the corridor by Borough employees and a security company. Patrols have been effective at reducing trespassing and criminal activity. No Borough employee or contractor has fired any weapons during these patrols.