Rail Link study chugs on

Canada-Alaska rail link proponents were drumming up support from the Whitehorse business community this week.

Canada-Alaska rail link proponents were drumming up support from the Whitehorse business community this week.

The presentation is part of ongoing consultations with the public and interest groups, according to communications co-ordinator Amanda Leslie.

Travelling across the Yukon and Alaska, promoters want to inform the public about why the link should be built, where ties would be laid and how much it would cost to build the “land bridge” from Fairbanks, Alaska, to Fort Nelson or Dease Lake, BC.

Commissioned by Alaska governor Frank Murkowski and Yukon premier Dennis Fentie, the report will become the property of the governments once complete, added Leslie.

The governments will decide if it gets released to the public.

The talks ensure a flow of information to citizens, she said

This week, Alaska-based project manager Kells Boland made his second presentation in the territory at a Whitehorse Chamber of Commerce luncheon.

It added little to the debate.

A rail link would make it viable to ship raw materials to Asia via Alaskan ports, and to import finished goods, said Boland, repeating much of a speech given at the Visitor Reception Centre in March.

There are two main possible routes for the rail line, one along the Tintina Trench and the other along the Alaska Highway.

The Tintina route would essentially follow the Robert Campbell Highway and be closer to potential mining sites, while the Alaska Highway route, would run nearer the proposed Alaska natural gas pipeline.

Even if the railroad never comes to be, the study is valuable, said Boland.

“The mineral prospects in the ground aren’t going anywhere,” he said, noting the routes aren’t changing either.

The Yukon government shared cost of the $5.5-millon study with Alaska after Ottawa refused.

There is no evidence there is a need for a railroad, according to Transport Canada.

The study is due to be finished this year. (CO)