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ANCHORAGE - Nearly $300 million in federal funds are fueling a building boom for the Alaska Railroad.
The upswing in activity began in earnest last year, with more than two dozen ongoing construction projects planned along the 500-mile rail line from Seward to North Pole.
Railroad officials credit the building boom to funding obtained in 1996 after Alaska's congressional delegation pushed for the railroad to be recognized as a passenger rail. Before then, the state-owned railroad received no federal funding.
Over the next few years, two new depots will be built, rail lines will be straightened and new track sidings will be constructed, among other projects.
One of the most visible projects is the $28 million depot going up at Ted Stevens Anchorage International Airport. Initially, it will serve mainly cruise ship tourists traveling between Seward and the airport.