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January 12, 2018

Alaska forms advisory group to study commuter rail feasibility

The Governor of Alaska in the US, Bill Walker, has signed an executive order for the formation of a commuter rail advisory task force.

The Governor of Alaska in the US, Bill Walker, has signed an executive order for the formation of a commuter rail advisory task force.

The nine-member group has been authorised under Administrative Order No. 292 and will be responsible for determining the feasibility of a commuter rail service that would connect Anchorage and the Matanuska-Susitna Valley.

Both communities are currently connected by the single ground transportation link known as the Glenn Highway, which is used by around 50,000 drivers daily.

"Anyone who drives on the Glenn Highway knows all too well that we need an alternative way to move between Alaska’s two largest population centres."

The task force will comprise mayors from associated municipalities and the director of the Anchorage Metropolitan Area Transportation Solutions, as well as a representative from Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson and two members of the public possessing transportation knowledge.

The Transportation and Commerce commissioners will also be part of the group as non-voting members.

Walker said: “Anyone who drives on the Glenn Highway knows all too well that we need an alternative way to move between Alaska’s two largest population centres.

“This new group will make sure our rail system is reaching its full potential.”

The task force will procure information from earlier studies conducted by the Department of Transportation, as well as necessary data from the Alaska Railroad Corporation and other sources.

The study is expected to help to determine the estimates of initial and ongoing capital costs, in addition to anticipated operating costs, potential ridership and the economic benefits of a commuter rail service.

It is also intended to help determine a governance structure for the commuter rail network.

The study’s initial findings are expected to be submitted to the Governor no later than May 31 this year.

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