Alaska Railroad extension project gets under way


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WASILLA (AP) — A rail line extension project from Point MacKenzie to Houston is under way.

KTUU-TV (http://is.gd/gNs7uT) reports that workers currently are plowing a 32-mile swatch of land through wooded areas and wetlands. The project aims to connect the railroad's main line in Houston to a deep water port at Point MacKenzie.

The purpose of the $88 million project is to expedite the transport of minerals from the Interior to tidewater in Southcentral Alaska. The project permit allows for filling in nearly 96 acres of wetlands.

Mat-Su Borough officials say the project will provide a low-cost way to transport minerals and other bulk materials. But critics say the project is expensive and unnecessary, and based on uncertain future economic developments.

The project is expected to be completed in 2016.

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