The State of Alaska has released its latest economic report, citing several drivers of the economy in the third quarter of 2017.

"By tracking the data quarterly and compiling it into a single, easy-to-read report, our goal is to support the assessment of Alaska’s economic health and business climate," said Britteny Cioni-Haywood, director of the state's Division of Economic Development.

The division says cargo traffic through the Northern Sea Route will likely rise in the coming years -- traffic being driven by new exports of Russian oil and gas, along with increased interest from China. Gov Bill Walker has signed a joint development agreement with Chinese officials to work together to develop and finance a proposed liquefied natural gas project. The plan includes an 800-mile gas line from the North Slope to Nikiski.

The report also says seafood and zinc made up the bulk of Alaska's more than $2.5 billion of exports in the third quarter, marking a strong year for salmon in both price and amount harvested.

The Alaska Railroad is also mentioned as a driver of Alaska's economy in the third quarter. The report says the railroad saw a big increase in freight tonnage, reversing a five-year downtrend.

"What we had was some unexpected growth in our gravel trains, in the amount of tonnage we were moving for that, in a couple of big projects here in Anchorage for the Seward Highway and for O'Malley Road," said railroad spokesman Tim Sullivan.

The report said summer train passenger volume was up.

"Passenger numbers were spectacular for the summer. We're looking to have the biggest year we've had since 2008 at the end of the year," Sullivan said.

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