Railroad project to reroute track delayed

Posted: Tuesday, July 24, 2007

FAIRBANKS - Work on a $40 million project to reposition train tracks on military land in Fairbanks is being delayed until next year.

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The Alaska Railroad Corp. had hoped to begin the three-year project this summer. It is now tentatively set to begin next spring. When finished, the project will eliminate train traffic from the most populated part of Fort Wainwright.

"We're doing away with crossings," Alaska Railroad Corp. strategic planning director Bruce Carr said. "We're improving the quality of the track."

The delay in construction is because the federal agency overseeing the project is still collecting required input from organizations, railroad officials said.

The borough had previously objected to the Fort Wainwright project, a stance that softened this spring after borough and railroad officials announced an agreement over a number of Fairbanks-area realignment projects.

Mayor Jim Whitaker said he plans to report to the Federal Railroad Administration, the agency overseeing the proposed Fort Wainwright project, that the on-post reroute was not the one preferred by local officials. Fairbanks-area mayors had urged the railroad to choose an option that would reroute all train traffic south of Fairbanks.

A Fort Wainwright spokeswoman said Friday that work has begun on a half-dozen housing projects that will add hundreds of new units to the post.

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