FAIRBANKS (AP) -- Alaska Sen. Frank Murkowski didn't get quite as much money to study a rail connection to Canada as he had hoped, at least in the coming year.
The final appropriations bill for transportation, approved by both congressional chambers earlier this month, contains $1.5 million for the study.
The Senate had appropriated $2 million for the fiscal year that began Oct. 1 as part of a three-year commitment for $6 million. The spending for this year was chopped by $500,000 in a House-Senate conference committee.
The money is provided in the research budget of the Federal Railroad Administration.
Murkowski, a Republican, hopes to link the Alaska Railroad to the Lower 48 via Canada. That could tap coal and mineral resources in Alaska, he believes.
The connection would require 1,150 miles of new track, from Eielson Air Force Base to either Fort St. John or Fort Nelson in Canada. The cost is estimated at $1.15 billion to $2.3 billion.
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