The Port MacKenzie Rail Extension project in Alaska involves the construction of a 32-mile (51.5km) railway line connecting Port MacKenzie’s deep draft rock to the chief rail route of Alaska Rail Road at Houston.
Construction on the extension line started in March 2013. The new rail route connecting Port MacKenzie and Houston will boost mining operations in the region by cutting the distance between the port and the interior region by 141 miles (227km), which will help in reducing the transportation cost of minerals. It is expected to result in a surge in mining activity along the line, especially in locations that were earlier hindered by inadequate transportation.
The port will also witness an increase in bulk exports upon completion of the new railway line. The rail loop of the port will be able to accommodate 110 rail cars upon completion, which will lead to a significant rise in cargo offloading efficiency. The 1200’ deep-draft dock can accommodate panama and cape class vessels.
The Matanuska-Susitna Borough has been allotted $116m in funding for the rail extension project, in the form of state legislative appropriations. It has requested further state appropriations of $126m in order to complete the project. A general obligation bond worth $30m has also been approved for the project in November 2012. Stages 1, 3, 4 and 6 of the project have been funded. Around $60m is reserved for segments 2 and 5, while $66.5m is kept for segments 7 and 8.
A decade ago the State of Alaska and the Yukon Government commissioned a study on possible rail links to the north. It pitched the feasibility of such rail links based on massive resource developments, such as Yukon’s iron ore deposits. Yet with commodity prices dropping in recent years no proponents are looking north with rail developments, except in Alaska.
The completion of the Port MacKenzie rail link and the extension of the rail head to Delta Junction will add important rail infrastructure to enable further project development. The Alaska Railway is building for the future.