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President’s Executive Order Seeks To Expedite Progress on Alaska-Canada Rail Link Project

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EIRNS—As of the end of this year, design specifics are expected to be completed for the new 2400 km rail line to supply the missing link between Alaska and the North American rail grid. This time frame was given by officials of the two collaborating entities at the June announcement of their plans—the A2A (Alberta to Alaska Railway Development Corp.), and the Alaska Railroad Corp. The whole project is expected to cost $13 billion, and would be the largest rail project on the continent.

In the run-up to the June announcement, lawmakers and President Donald Trump took actions to expedite the long-overdue rail link. A joint resolution was passed by Alaska’s Senate and House, SJ 11, which listed many benefits of the new rail line. It also pointed out that, whereas the Alaska Railroad was commissioned by Congress in 1914, over a century has now passed and no link with Canada and the Lower 48 states has ever been built.

After receiving the legislative initiative, Alaska Gov. Michael Dunleavy, in early April, wrote to President Trump, asking for Federal support of the rail plan, which requires Executive Branch approval for implementation.

On April 10, Trump issued Executive Order EO13867, “On the Issuance of Permits with Respect to Facilities and Land Transportation Crossings at the International Boundaries of the United States,” which clears the way for speedy approval of the railroad by the White House directly, without procedural delay. The text of the order identifies that the permitting process for cross border infrastructure—rail, highway, pipelines, bridges—has grown to be “unnecessarily complicated,” and lays out measures to speed up the permitting process. The purpose of this remediation of delays, is for the United States “to foster goodwill and mutually productive economic exchanges with its neighboring countries.”

The geography of this goodwill can easily extend to Russia, in crossing the Bering Strait.