Inside Logistics

Alaska to Alberta Railway gets Trump nod

President signs permit for cross-border railway


September 30, 2020
by The Associated Press (APR)

ANCHORAGE, Alaska – President Donald Trump on Tuesday approved a permit for a proposed rail line connecting Alaska and Canada.

The Presidential Border Crossing Permit is required of all United States/Canada cross-border infrastructure projects. The issuance of the presidential permit is a significant achievement that acts to remove uncertainty, facilitating the continued development of engineering, business partnerships, financing, Indigenous relationships and environmental permitting.

Trump sent a tweet Friday announcing his intention to sign the permit for the A2A cross-border line between Alaska and Canada.

Alaska Republican Gov. Mike Dunleavy thanked Trump Tuesday and called the permit “a game changer for Alaskans.”

“The rail link between our state, Canada and the rest of the country has been a dream for many generations,” Dunleavy said in a statement. “This is a big win for Alaska and our entire country.”

Trump’s tweet Friday credited what he called a “strong recommendation” by U.S. Sen. Dan Sullivan and U.S. Rep. Don Young, both Republicans, supporting the rail permit.

“The issuance of a presidential permit is a significant milestone that will greatly assist with our continued efforts to build the A2A railway,” said Sean McCoshen, A2A founder and chairman.

“We estimate that this rail line could unlock $60 billion in additional cumulative GDP through 2040 and create more than 28,000 jobs. In addition, A2A will lift household incomes by an average of 40 percent in the communities we pass through in Northwestern Canada and Alaska.”

Connecting Canada and Alaska

The 2,570-kilometre railroad line would connect Alaska to Canada and the continental U.S., said Mead Treadwell, Alaska vice-chair of Alaska to Alberta Railway, the company proposing the project.

The route would run from Alaska’s Interior region through Canada’s Yukon to Alberta. Trains would carry passengers and commodities including grain, fertilizer, pipe, containers and sulfur, Treadwell said.

The line would decrease the time required to move products between Asia and North America, Treadwell said.

A presidential permit would boost investor confidence to spend more money on detailed engineering and environmental reviews, Treadwell said.

Benefits for Alaska

Sullivan’s office said the project could expand the state’s transportation system, create jobs, lower food costs and “provide greater security for food and supplies.”

Young said in a statement that he has worked with the White House on the project that “will strengthen our country’s already close relationship with Canada and allow us to work hand-in-hand to responsibly develop our resources.”

Democratic Rep. Sara Hannan was the only state legislator to vote against a May 2019 Alaska House resolution encouraging the presidential permit.

Hannan said she did not oppose the railroad, but she is against rail cars possibly carrying Alberta tar sands oil.

“I don’t think we should be encouraging those oil developments because they’re the dirtiest oil we have,” Hannan said.