Girdwood, AK/Commuter Rail Project A-13

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Alaska Railroad Commuter Rail Project

Girdwood, Alaska

(August 2001)


The Alaska Railroad Corporation (ARRC) is proposing to improvements to a segment of railroad between Anchorage and Girdwood, Alaska. The project involves construction of a five-mile section of new main line south of Anchorage toward Girdwood. The double-tracking will increase speeds and facilitate operations in an industrial area of Anchorage where many ARRC freight customers are located. ARRC operates both freight and passenger service over the section of trackage to be improved. Passenger service is primarily geared toward serving tourists between the months of May and September. Due to harsh winter conditions of frozen ground, ice and snow storms, the construction season is limited to late March through November.

The capital cost of the project is estimated to be $7,027,300 in current dollars. The FTA Section 5309 share is expected to be $5,621,840. Because the proposed New Starts share is less than $25 million, the project is exempt from the New Starts criteria, and is thus not subject to FTA’s evaluation and rating (49 U.S.C. Section 5309(e)(8)(A)).

Summary Description
Proposed Project: Commuter Rail


Total Capital Cost ($YOE): $7.0 million
Section 5309 Share: $5.6 million
Annual Operating Cost: Not Reported
Ridership Forecast: Not Reported


In 1999 the ARRC undertook a study of its system titled Woodside Study, which assessed the overall condition of the railroad and the ability to undertake various types of improvements, including commuter rail. During 2000, the study identified the benefits of incrementally improving the performance of the railroad on its existing right-of-way.

FTA approved a categorical exclusion to meet NEPA requirements in July 2000. In June 2000, the Federal Transit Administration (FTA) approved entry into preliminary engineering (PE) for the Alaska Railroad Curve Straightening and Double Tracking Project. The project was included in the Anchorage Metropolitan Transportation Study’s (AMATS/Anchorage MPO) Long Range Transportation Plan 2001 Update on April 25, 2001. In June 2001, FTA approved this project to initiate final design.

Locally Proposed Financing Plan
(Reported in $YOE)
Proposed Source of Funds Total Funding ($million) Appropriations to Date
    Section 5309 New Starts
5.6 ($9.9 million appropriated through FY00 for entire 71-mile project)
Local: 1.4  
TOTAL $7.0  
NOTE: Funding proposal reflects assumptions made by project sponsors, and are not DOT or FTA assumptions. Totals may not add due to rounding.