Federal Railroad Administration releases FONSI for North Pole Road/Rail Crossing Reduction Project
ANCHORAGE, Alaska – On Friday, December 7, the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) issued a Finding of No Significant Impact (FONSI) for the Environmental Assessment (EA) of the North Pole Road/Rail Crossing Reduction project. This allows the project to move forward into the next phases —including land acquisition, final design and permitting — as funding is identified.
The project proposes to reduce the number of at-grade (same level) crossings along the Alaska Railroad (ARRC) Eielson Branch track from Richardson Highway Milepost 9 to the Chena River Floodway. The FRA issued the FONSI after considering the potential impacts of several alternatives in the EA and reviewing public comments solicited through public meetings and other outreach. The approved project would realign the track on the landward side of the Tanana River Flood Control Levee, close nine at-grade crossings through the City of North Pole, and relocate the existing crossing over the Richardson Highway, replacing it with a grade-separated crossing.
The EA was financed by $1 million in Federal Highway Administration funds that were reallocated by the Fairbanks Metropolitan Area Transportation System (FMATS) and the Alaska Department of Transportation & Public Facilities. Funding for next phases has not been identified; however, the Alaska Railroad is seeking funding sources.
“This finding will allow us to work to secure funding for an important project not just for the people of North Pole and Interior Alaska but also for the state as a whole,” said Representative-Elect Doug Isaacson, who also served as North Pole mayor through the EA process, until October 2012. “This is one of several key projects that will further the economic development of the state of which the Alaska Railroad plays a significant part. I look forward to working with my new colleagues in Juneau to provide the funding we’ll need to make the realignment a reality.”
The project represents the first phase of a larger proposed project to realign the railroad tracks outside of the more urban areas of Fairbanks and North Pole.
The FONSI documents and attachments are available on the Alaska Railroad web site at www.AlaskaRailroad.com > Capital Projects > Fairbanks / Interior Projects.