FAIRBANKS — The Alaska Railroad Corp. has asked federal engineers to reject a late environmental objection to its plan for a bridge across the Tanana River.
The railroad says the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has flip-flopped on the plan, which has been in the works for more than half a decade with more than $140 million lined up in military and state funding.
The plans call for building a 3,300-foot bridge that would be the state’s longest and connect Salcha to vast military training grounds.
It’s also viewed as the first step in an extension project between the North Pole area and Delta Junction, host to Fort Greely Army post, the Fairbanks Daily News-Miner reports.
“To say we are disappointed in the EPA’s recent actions would be an understatement,” said Tom Brooks, a top engineer and vice president for the railroad.
Brooks said in a statement that the EPA’s “eleventh hour” attempt to bypass years of environmental review with new objections “puts this project in serious jeopardy.”
The EPA in November and December said the project represents too big of an environmental risk, telling the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers it would push for stronger justification of the bridge’s proposed location.
But the railroad noted in its release Monday that four years of review preceded a federal transportation panel’s approval of the project in early 2010.
The railroad said the EPA had approved of the choice of site as recently as 2009 and its “sudden” reversal challenges findings from an environmental impact statement.
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