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S. 2687 (107th): National Defense Rail Connection Act of 2002

The text of the bill below is as of Jun 26, 2002 (Introduced).

S 2687 IS


2d Session

S. 2687

To facilitate the extension of the Alaska Railroad for national defense purposes.


June 26, 2002

Mr. MURKOWSKI introduced the following bill; which was read twice and referred to the Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation


To facilitate the extension of the Alaska Railroad for national defense purposes.

    Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America in Congress assembled,


    This act may be cited as the ‘National Defense Rail Connection Act of 2002’.


    (a) A comprehensive rail transportation network is a key element of an integrated transportation system for the North American continent, and Federal leadership is required to address the needs of a reliable, safe, and secure rail network, and to connect all areas of the United States for national defense and economic development, as previously done for the interstate highway system, the Federal aviation network, and the transcontinental railroad.

    (b) The creation and use of joint use corridors for rail transportation, fiber optics, pipelines, and utilities are an efficient and appropriate approach to optimizing the Nation’s interconnectivity and national security.

    (c) Government assistance and encouragement in the development of the transcontinental rail system successfully led to the growth of economically strong and socially stable communities throughout the western United States.

    (d) Government assistance and encouragement in the development of the Alaska Railroad between Seward, Alaska and Fairbanks, Alaska successfully led to the growth of economically strong and socially stable communities along the route, which today provide homes for over 70 percent of Alaska’s total population.

    (e) While Alaska and the remainder of the continental United States has been connected by highway and air transportation, no rail connection exists despite the fact that Alaska is accessible by land routes and is a logical destination for the North American rail system.

    (f) Rail transportation in otherwise isolated areas is an appropriate means of providing controlled access, reducing overall impacts to environmentally sensitive areas over other methods of land-based access.

    (g) Because Congress originally authorized 1,000 miles of rail line to be built in Alaska, and because the system today covers only approximately half that distance, substantially limiting its beneficial effect on the economy of Alaska and the Nation, it is appropriate to support the expansion of the Alaska system to ensure the originally planned benefits are achieved.

    (h) Alaska has an abundance of natural resources, both material and aesthetic, access to which would significantly increase Alaska’s contribution to the national economy.

    (i) Alaska contains many key national defense installations, including sites chosen for the construction of the first phase of the National Missile Defense system, the cost of which could be significantly reduced if rail transportation were available for the movement of materials necessary for construction and for the secure movement of launch vehicles, fuel and other operational supplies.

    (j) The 106th Congress recognized the potential benefits of establishing a rail connection to Alaska by enacting legislation to authorize a U.S.-Canada bilateral

commission to study the feasibility of linking the rail system in Alaska to the nearest appropriate point in Canada of the North American rail network.

    (k) In support of pending bilateral activities between the United States and Canada, it is appropriate for the United States to undertake activities relating to elements within the United States.


    (a) Within one year from the date of enactment of this Act, the Secretary of the Interior, in consultation with the Secretary of Transportation, the State of Alaska and the Alaska Railroad Corporation, shall identify a proposed national defense railroad-utility corridor linking the existing corridor of the Alaska Railroad to the vicinity of the proposed National Missile Defense facilities at Fort Greely, Alaska. The corridor shall be at least 500 feet wide and shall also identify land for such terminals, stations, maintenance facilities, switching yards, and material sites as are considered necessary.

    (b) The identification of the corridor under paragraph (a) shall include information providing a complete legal description for and noting the current ownership of the proposed corridor and associated land.

    (c) In identifying the corridor under paragraph (a), the Secretary shall consider, at a minimum, the following factors:

      (1) The proximity of national defense installations and national defense considerations.

      (2) The location of and access to natural resources that could contribute to economic development of the region.

      (3) Grade and alignment standards that are commensurate with rail and utility construction standards and that minimize the prospect of at-grade railroad and highway crossings.

      (4) Availability of construction materials.

      (5) Safety.

      (6) Effects on and service to adjacent communities and potential intermodal transportation connections.

      (7) Environmental concerns.

      (8) Use of public land to the maximum degree possible.

      (9) Minimization of probable construction costs.

      (10) An estimate of probable construction costs and methods of financing such costs through a combination of private, State, and Federal sources.

      (11) Appropriate utility elements for the corridor, including but not limited to petroleum product pipelines, fiber-optic telecommunication facilities, and electrical power transmission lines.

      (12) Prior and established traditional uses.

    (d) The Secretary may, as part of the corridor identification, include issues related to the further extension of such corridor to a connection with the nearest appropriate terminus of the North American rail network in Canada.


    (a) The Secretary of the Interior shall--

      (1) upon completion of the corridor identification in section 3, negotiate the acquisition of any lands in the corridor which are not federally owned through an exchange for lands of equal or greater value held by the Federal Government elsewhere in Alaska; and

      (2) upon completion of the acquisition of lands under paragraph (1), the Secretary shall convey to the Alaska Railroad Corporation, subject to valid existing rights, title to the lands identified under section 3 as necessary to complete the national defense railroad-utility corridor, on condition that the Alaska Railroad Corporation construct in the corridor an extension of the railroad system to the vicinity of the proposed national missile defense installation at Fort Greely, Alaska, together with such other utilities, including but not limited to fiber-optic transmission lines and electrical transmission lines, as it considers necessary and appropriate. The Federal interest in lands conveyed to the Alaska Railroad Corporation under this Act shall be the same as in lands conveyed pursuant to the Alaska Railroad Transfer Act (45 U.S.C. 1201 et seq.).


    Actions authorized in this Act shall proceed immediately and to conclusion not withstanding the land-use planning provisions of section 202 of the Federal Land Policy and Management Act of 1976, Public Law 94-579.


    There are authorized to be appropriated such sums as may be necessary to carry out the provisions of this Act.