Alaska governor to assemble advisory group on commuter rail

By – Associated Press – Wednesday, January 10, 2018

ANCHORAGE, Alaska (AP) – Gov. Bill Walker issued an executive order to establish a task force to look into building a commuter rail service between Anchorage and Wasilla, Alaska.

Walker’s order on Tuesday called for him to appoint a nine-member advisory group, composed of the mayors of the communities on the rail’s potential route, KTUU-TV reported .

The task force will also have a representative from the city-state Anchorage transportation agency and from Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson, as well as two public members.

A rail link between Wasilla and Anchorage has been studied many times over the years and has led to several large reports that recommended a trial project.

The governor’s executive order acknowledged the past work and said that a rail link could save money on highway maintenance and improve environmental quality.

In 2002, the Alaska Railroad Corp. produced a 234-page study on the benefits of commuter rail service. The report suggested the railroad buy reconditioned, self-propelled rail diesel cars to operate the commuter line, which would include several trains for the morning and evening rush hours.

“A locally sponsored commuter rail service could offer commuters a meaningful alternative to traffic jams and frazzled nerves,” the report said.

The order requires the task force to prepare reports and conclude its business by Oct. 1, 2019.

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Information from: KTUU-TV, http://www.ktuu

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