|  August 30, 2014  |  
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Port MacKenzie Rail Extension Groundbreaking Great Step for Statewide Economic Development

Rail Extension will help move minerals, other goods from Interior to Tidewater in SouthCentral

PORT MACKENZIE, AK-Today, Governor Sean Parnell joined Senators Charlie Huggins (R-Wasilla) Mike Dunleavy (R-Mat-Su Valley), and Fred Dyson (R-Eagle River) along with several state Representatives and Mat-Su Borough officials for the groundbreaking of the new Port MacKenzie Rail Extension.

"This project not only opens up new opportunities for the Mat-Su Valley, the fastest growing area of the state, it also opens up new prospects for the entire state," said Senator Dunleavy.  "It furthers resource development along with many other areas of new commerce as well.  This is truly what I call investing in the future of Alaska."

The port lies about 30 miles southwest of Wasilla and about 5 miles due north of Anchorage, across Cook Inlet.   The route involves 32 miles of new rail extending from Port MacKenzie to the Alaska Railroad’s mainline just south of Houston.  

The new extension will encourage increased rail freight activity and further economic development of the Interior as well as other areas statewide.  Benefits to the state and communities will include increased employment, a broader tax base, and greater overall economic health.

"Port MacKenzie serves as an optimal port location because it can serve the world’s largest ships," said Senator Huggins.  "It has the space to accommodate bulk resource storage, transport and processing facilities, as well as rail and terminal facilities for efficient train loading and unloading. I want to thank all everyone who worked to help this project come to fruition."

Speakers at the groundbreaking included: Mat-Su Borough Manager John Moosey, Alaska Railroad Chief Operating Officer Bill O'Leary, Master of Ceremony Joe Perkins, Governor Parnell, Senator Huggins, Representative Bill Stoltze (R-Chugiak/Mat-Su), Mat-Su Borough Mayor Larry DeVilbiss, and Alaska Railroad Corporation Board Member John Binkley.

Three segments of the rail line are under construction this summer with 116 workers.  When the fourth segment is started in the fall, the number of workers will rise to 200.  Voters approved $30 million for the project, while the Governor and Legislature appropriated another $141 million for the project. The entire project will cost around $272.5 million.

“The money spent to get this project off the ground is only a drop in the bucket compared to how much is going to go back into Alaska’s economy through to this extension,” said Senator Dunleavy.

The project could be completed as soon as 2016. 

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