Senate passes rail line legislation

Posted: Sunday, October 15, 2000

WASHINGTON (AP) -- The U.S. Senate has passed legislation sponsored by Sen. Frank Murkowski to study a 1,150-mile rail connection to Canada.

The bill, which now goes to the House for consideration after being approved Friday, would set up a joint U.S.-Canada commission to conduct the study. The bill also authorizes Congress to spend $6 million over the next three years to carry out the work. Appointments to the 20-member commission would be split equally between the U.S. president and the Canadian government.

The track now ends at Eielson Air Force Base. The closest rail in Canada is near Fort Nelson and Fort St. James. The distance in both cases is about the same.

Murkowski, R-Alaska, said in a news release that the railroad could encourage development of mineral resources in the Tanana-Yukon uplands that lie between Faro, in Canada's Yukon Territory, and Fairbanks. The area contains silver, tungsten, copper, lead, zinc and other ores, he said.

One day, there could be a link to Northwest Alaska and the North Slope, where coal beds could be tapped, Murkowski said.

He said he hopes the commission will also consider other lines, including a connection to the Russian Far East.

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