The Alaska Railroad Corp. and Alberta Railway Development Corp. have agreed pursue a 1,500-mile rail connection, the Alaska Railroad's Board of Directors announced in a press release on Thursday. 

The agreement calls for the two corporations to apply for right-of-way guaranteed under state law for a rail connection into Canada. It also calls for identifying work needed to upgrade existing facilities, bridges and track on the 512-mainline running from Seward to North Pole. 

“A rail connection between Alaska and Canada and the rest of the United States is a project that has been talked and dreamed about for close to a century,” said ARRC President and CEO Bill O’Leary. “Completing that connection has amazing potential for Alaska and this agreement between the Alaska Railroad and A2A Rail is an important first step to get the project underway.”

The entire project is expected to cost approximately $13 billion.  

Full construction would begin after a right-of-way is approved by state and federal agencies, a Presidential border crossing permit is received and environmental reviews are conducted by the U.S. and Canada. 

"First Nations, Indigenous groups and Alaska Native entities, whose traditional lands are crossed by the route, are being consulted during this process," the release states. "These entities have been invited to participate in the economic benefits of the project."

A full project description for the rail link in the U.S. and Canada is expected to be completed this year.

“We are pleased to reach this milestone with the Alaska Railroad,” said Sean McCoshen, CEO and co-founder of A2A Rail. “It will help assure global investors that obtaining a right-of-way in Alaska is achievable, and sets up major cooperation in permitting, operations, and marketing with the Alaska Railroad. We expect this project to generate significant economic activity in Alaska and Canada.”

In April the Senate unanimously passed a resolution supporting a similar project. The House passed the SJR 11 one month later.

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