Improving Alaska's transportation infrastructure is critically important to our economic future. Most candidates agree. A rail connection with North America is one project that has captured the imagination of many Alaskans. In the Legislature, Rep. Jeannette James took the lead by passing legislation to set aside corridors.
Sen. Murkowski picked up the ball in Washington, D.C., introducing and passing the Rails to Resources Act, which provides $6 million to fund a feasibility study to be carried out by a joint U.S.-Canada commission. So far, the Canadian government in Ottawa hasn't decided to participate.
In its Jan. 4, 2001, edition, the Whitehorse Star reported the Knowles-Ulmer administration was not planning support for the project.
James suggested there might be efficiency and cost-savings of building the natural gas pipeline and the railroad at the same time. In a Whitehorse Star news report of June 8, 2001, Sen. Murkowski is quoted, saying he's asked the producers to "look into the idea of multiple uses of the corridor along the (Alaska) highway," and stating "there could be ways to use the railway in building a pipeline."
The article next describes the response from Knowles-Ulmer, reporting "the governor's office does not seem interested in sharing James' dream."
The Whitehorse Star can certainly be considered neutral. Yet the paper's two articles certainly reveal a contrast. Sen. Murkowski says, "we can." Knowles-Ulmer says "no we can't."
Under the Knowles-Ulmer administration we saw the Denali Highway closed and the Steese Highway almost closed. Pessimism prevails - or so it seems.
On the other hand, it seems clear that Frank Murkowski has and will bring to Juneau an optimistic "lets roll up our sleeves and get to work" attitude. For that reason my vote is going to Frank Murkowski for governor on Nov. 5.
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