The senior members of Alaska's congressional delegation, Sen. Lisa Murkowski and Rep. Don Young, today welcomed the decision by the Environmental Protection Agency to not oppose a proposed railroad bridge across the Tanana River in Interior Alaska.
The bridge was approved by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers as part of the Alaska Railroad's Northern Rail Extension. The project would extend rail service 80 miles from North Pole to Fort Greely, home to the U.S. Army's missile interceptor base.
"The EPA's decision is good news for the Interior and will help ensure the viability of the military in Alaska in the future," Murkowski said. "The expansion of the railroad will provide the military with year-round access to the unmatched training grounds on the Tanana Flats."
"This decision was the right one," Young said. "This bridge will provide opportunities to Interior Alaska, and help secure the long-term presence of the military in Fairbanks. Given our short construction season, a decision by the EPA against moving forward with this project would have killed it, obstructing responsible development and hurting the local economies. Moving forward with the bridge is the right decision and the only responsible choice."
Murkowski and Young had sent a letter to the EPA seeking a meeting with EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson. They also had had their staffs work with the agency, presenting the technical case why the EPA should not oppose the bridge near Salcha. The Delegation has emphasized the importance of the bridge and railroad extension to the Interior economy and to provide the military with year-round access to training grounds.