2011 News Archive
(April-June)
 
Alaska could see another record in coal exports this year as production grows - 6/14/11
Alaska Journal of Commerce
By Tim Bradner

Alaska could set another record for coal exports in 2011, Alaska Railroad Corp. and Usibelli Mine Inc. managers say.

Usibelli produces coal from its mine near Healy, about 90 miles south of Fairbanks, and is considering whether to develop a small coal deposit at Wishbone Hill, near Palmer.

[See story]

Alaska could see another record in coal exports - 6/14/11
Anchorage Daily News
The Associated Press

The Alaska Journal of Commerce reported Usibelli Mine Inc., which produces coal near Healy, is considering whether to develop a mine at Wishbone Hill, near Palmer.

[See story]

Tanana River bridge gets EPA approval - 6/12/11
Fairbanks Daily News Miner
by Christopher Eshleman

FAIRBANKS — A key federal environmental regulator has cleared a permit for the Alaska Railroad’s plans to bridge the Tanana River near Salcha.

The decision appears to ready the Alaska Railroad to start the almost $190 million project this summer.

[See story]

Ice park close to securing deal on new home - 6/11/11
Fairbanks Daily News Miner
by Christopher Eshleman

FAIRBANKS — Ice Alaska, host of Fairbanks’ biggest ice sculpting event, could own a new home as soon as today.

The nonprofit organization would pay $2.3 million for the site, with most of the cash to come from a leftover 2006 government grant, according to paperwork central to the deal.

[See story]

EPA signs off on $190 million Tanana River railroad bridge - 6/9/11
Anchorage Daily News
The Associated Press

FAIRBANKS -- A federal agency will not challenge a permit to build a bridge over the Tanana River in a decision that helps clear the way for the start of a $190 million bridge project this summer.

[See story]

Tanana River bridge gets EPA approval - 6/9/11
Fairbanks Daily News Miner
by Christopher Eshleman

FAIRBANKS — A key federal environmental regulator has cleared a permit for the Alaska Railroad’s plans to bridge the Tanana River near Salcha.

The decision appears to ready the Alaska Railroad to start the almost $190 million project this summer.

[See story]

Alaska Railroad rallying support for proposed Tanana bridge - 6/9/11
Fairbanks Daily News Miner
by Christopher Eshleman

FAIRBANKS — Public officials and interest groups are heaping support behind the Alaska Railroad’s proposal to span the Tanana River with a bridge, the railroad corporation’s top executive said this week.

The latest is U.S. Sen. Mark Begich, who asked the EPA’s regional director Tuesday to let the project begin.

[See story]

Ice Alaska buying property near current location - 6/9/11
Fairbanks Daily News Miner
by Reba Lean

FAIRBANKS — Ice Alaska will be packing up and moving down the block. It has found a new property that it is in the process of purchasing, according to organization officials.

The Ice Alaska nonprofit organization must be off the Alaska Railroad Corp. property by the end of the month, with no exceptions.

[See story]

Railroad, agencies juggle Tanana River bridge permits - 6/1/11
Fairbanks Daily News Miner
by Christopher Eshleman

FAIRBANKS — Money is on its way, but an impasse between federal regulators threatens to sink plans for a huge Tanana River bridge.

The proposed bridge in Salcha would be the longest in the state and would connect the Interior’s road system to vast military training grounds to the south of the river. The Alaska Legislature in May provided $44 million to close a budget shortfall on the project, which is managed by the state-owned Alaska Railroad.

[See story]

Alaska Railroad 'All Aboard' to Replace Old Rail Ties - 6/1/11
www.ktuu.com
By Lori Tipton

WASILLA, Alaska - A four month project to replace old rail ties is now underway, according to the Alaska Railroad Corporation (ARRC).

From mid-May through September, the Alaska Railroad will replace 50,000 wooden ties between Pittman Road, north of Wasilla, and Portage.

[See story]

Alaska Railroad refuses to sell land on which ice park sits - 5/21/11
Fairbanks Daily News-Miner
by Molly Rettig

FAIRBANKS — The Alaska Railroad Corp. will not entertain any offers to buy the Ice Park land along Phillips Field Road, according to a letter it sent to Ice Alaska on May 6.

"The railroad said, 'We're not mediating because we don’t have to and we don't want to,'" said Fairbanks North Star Borough Mayor Luke Hopkins, who received a copy of the railroad’s letter.

[See story]

Alaska state lawmakers back Tanana bridge project - 5/13/11
Fairbanks Daily News-Miner
by Christopher Eshleman

JUNEAU — A key House panel has stretched statewide spending plans to include funding for a Tanana River bridge.

State railroad managers say the $44 million would clinch financing for the $188 million road-and-rail bridge proposal.

[See story]

Gov. Parnell pushes for Tanana River bridge project - 5/13/11
Fairbanks Daily News-Miner
by Christopher Eshleman

JUNEAU — Gov. Sean Parnell backed a request Wednesday for $44 million in state aid to finish preparation for a proposed Tanana River bridge.

The pledge of support comes as Interior groups ask state lawmakers for the help.

[See story]

Ice Alaska preparing another offer for railroad land - 5/4/11
Fairbanks Daily News-Miner
by Molly Rettig

FAIRBANKS — Ice Alaska is preparing another offer to purchase railroad land, this time with more concrete funding.

[See story]

Fairbanks borough assembly's ice park debate runs late into the night - 5/2/11
Fairbanks Daily News-Miner

FAIRBANKS — The Borough Assembly was still taking testimony on how to spend ice park money at press time Thursday.

Borough Mayor Luke Hopkins and Assemblyman Tim Beck submitted two different ways of allocating nearly $1.8 million for an ice park. Beck proposed a grant to Ice Alaska while Hopkins wanted a bidding process (or request for proposals).

[See story]

Alaska Railroad turns down Ice Alaska proposal - 4/26/11
Fairbanks Daily News-Miner
by Molly Rettig

FAIRBANKS — The Alaska Railroad Corp. has rejected Ice Alaska’s bid to buy 30 acres off Phillips Field Road where it has hosted the World Ice Art Championships for the past 15 years.

[See story]

Legislators set to OK $3B capital budget - 4/17/11
Alaska Journal of Commerce
By Tim Bradner

There is also $20 million, which may be increased before the Legislature adjourns, for more work on the extension of the Alaska Railroad from its main line track near Willow and Wasilla to the Matanuska Susitna Borough's Port MacKenzie dock.

The Mat-Su Borough is leading the rail project and development of the port as a commodities facility. Improvements at the port to facilitate unloading of rail cars have been completed and the borough is about to let contracts for a start of construction of the rail bed with money appropriated last year.

The appropriation this year will allow the rail bed to be extended further toward the junction with the existing rail line. When the rail bed is complete the last step would be laying of the tracks.

[See story]

GP40 nos. 3007 and 3008 update - 4/16/11
Submitted by John Taubeneck, our ever vigilant northwest coast correspondent
The two ARR locos were on harbor Island Wednesday the 13th. Thursday they were gone.
.
Funding for Tanana River bridge up in the air - 4/15/11
Fairbanks Daily News-Miner
by Christopher Eshleman

The state railroad’s plan to span the Tanana River with a new bridge is attracting last-minute interest in Juneau. The question of money remains suspended in midair.

The Senate’s tentative capital budget for next year lacks the cash project managers say is critical to the proposal. Senators will vote on the budget later this week before shipping it to the House, where members of the Interior delegation stand ready to support the bridge, particularly if money is already there when the spending plan arrives at their desks.

[See story]

GP40 nos. 3007 and 3008 update - 4/12/11
Submitted by an anonymous source
The UP says they interchanged the GP40s to the ARR in Seattle around noon today.
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GP40 nos. 3007 and 3008 update - 4/9/11
Submitted by John Combs
My sources tell me GP40 numbers 3007 and 3008 are showing on the UP car trace system to arrive at Long View Jct., WA around 1:00am Sunday. Long View is just north of Porland so I think they could be in Seattle by Sunday night. 
.
Tampers and spikers - 4/8/11
Submitted by John Taubeneck, our ever vigilant northwest coast correspondent
Monday two brand new spikers showed up here in Seattle. By Tuesday they were loaded on the ARR flats with the four tampers. By Wednesday they were gone.
.
GP40 nos. 3007 and 3008 update - 4/8/11
Submitted by an anonymous source
ARR 3007 and 3008 are in Hinkle, Oregon right now 4/8/11
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GP40 nos. 3007 and 3008 returning to Alaska - 4/1/11
Submitted by an anonymous source

image image image

The Boise Valley Railroad's Boise Local pulled the finished ARR 3007 and 3008 that were repainted at MotivePower in Boise, Idaho today. The ARR 3007 and 3008 were sent to interchange with the Union Pacific late Thursday the 31st and should be headed for Seattle soon.

The first two pictures of the units tacked to the rear of the Boise Local were taken near the MotivePower shop right after they were picked up.

The last one was taken while the BVRR's Boise Local's power was switching in Meridian next to them.
.

Nordco tampers - 4/1/11
Submitted by John Taubeneck, our ever vigilant northwest coast correspondent
Monday [3/28/11] a forth tamper showed up loaded on a second ARR flat car. By Tuesday [3/29/11] all four were loaded and they were still setting along West marginal Way at 11 AM today.
.

Rail spur to connect port to main line at Houston - 3/29/11
Frontiersman
By K.T. McKee

PALMER — After more than 10 years of research and dreaming, supporters of a rail spur connecting Port MacKenzie to the main rail line through the Susitna Valley know the route the new line will travel.

[See story]

Nordco tampers - 3/26/11
Submitted by John Taubeneck, our ever vigilant northwest coast correspondent
Today [3/22/11] I spotted ARR flat car 17105 being loaded with three new Nordco tampers. I assume these are going north for the spring thaw.
.
Locomotive alumni update - 3/2/11

Here is a list of updates on some of our locomotive alumni:

[Webmaster's note - MP15 numbers 1551, 1552, 1553 and 1554] LEF&C #25 & 26, which were on the Alaska RR were recently sold to GATX, the RR leasing fleet. When I asked about their disposition, I got this reply from the folks at GATX:

Right now we are about to run all four of these locomotives one at a time through an extensive requalification at the former CEECO shop in Tacoma. From there I cannot say for sure, as they will become part of our operating lease fleet and as such will be marketed to industrial, shortline and regional railroad operators.

Those engines have not operated for almost 2 years. I believe they were retired from the Alaska RR in the spring of 2009. They were stored in Alaska for over a year, then transferred to Seattle last summer.

Bryan Seip


Three GP49s numbers 2803, 2806 and 2807 have moved from Illinois to Ohio:

http://railroadfan.com/phpbb/viewtopic.php?f=26&p=175404

http://www.rrpicturearchives.net/showPicture.aspx?id=2421464

http://www.flickr.com/photos/36688485@N02/5461672501/in/photostream/

I'll try to get down there in the next couple of weeks to grab a few photos.

John Combs

Alaska Railroad upgrading coal cachment system - 2/25/11
The Seward Phoenix Log
by CHRISTOPHER AADNESEN

The Alaska Railroad would like to thank Seward neighbors who participated in our Feb. 4 open house that showcased 2011 capital improvement projects proposed in Seward and along the railbelt.

[See story]

University Avenue reopened after train derailment Thursday - 2/25/11
Fairbanks Daily News-Miner
by Sam Friedman

FAIRBANKS - Two empty hopper cars of an Alaska Railroad Corp. train derailed Thursday afternoon at a crossing on University Avenue, blocking traffic for several hours on one of the Fairbanks area’s busiest roadways.

[See story]

Train derails, blocks University Avenue in Fairbanks - 2/24/11
Fairbanks Daily News-Miner
by Staff Report

FAIRBANKS - An Alaska Railroad Corp. crew hopes to get derailed train cars back on track at the University Avenue crossing by about 3:30 p.m. today so vehicle traffic can resume.

[See story]

Railroad seeks permit for herbicide use in Fairbanks railyard and along local tracks - 2/21/11
Fairbanks Daily News-Miner
by Dermot Cole

The Alaska Railroad is seeking a permit to use a herbicide this summer in the 100-acre Fairbanks railyard, the 45-acre Healy railyard and along 20 miles of track in Healy and in Fairbanks on the tracks to the airport and Eielson.

[See story]

Alaska Railroad Corp. gets new chairwoman - 2/21/11
Fairbanks Daily News-Miner
by Staff Report

FAIRBANKS — John Binkley has left the chairmanship of the Alaska Railroad Corp. board, and Linda Leary has taken his place. Binkley, of Fairbanks, has served 13 years as chairman. He will remain on the board.

A news release from the railroad said Binkley asked Leary to take the leadership post.

[See story]

Alaska Railroad asks state for an additional $44 million for bridge expansion - 2/21/11
Fairbanks Daily News-Miner
by Christopher Eshleman

JUNEAU — The state railroad has asked the Legislature to double a 2010 grant of $40 million to help it bridge the Tanana River near Salcha, a request that could make — or, left unfulfilled, break — the project.

Local and state lawmakers suggested the request may not fly, particularly if it would mean sacrificing other projects proposed for Interior Alaska.

[See story]

Railroad supports Chena River north bank trail; Ice Alaska controversy remains - 2/16/11
Fairbanks Daily News-Miner
by Dermot Cole

This won't solve the Ice Alaska dilemma, but the Alaska Railroad says it supports the idea of a riverfront greenbelt and trail along the north bank of the Chena River downstream of the power plant to Peger Road.

[See story]

2012 Commemorative Art Print Contest - 2/16/11
Alaska Railroad website

(Deadline to Submit is February 18, 2011)

The Alaska Railroad Corporation (ARRC) is soliciting submissions from Alaska artists who wish to compete in the 2012 Alaska Railroad Art Print Contest. Dates to remember:

February 18, 2011 – 2012 print contest submissions Must be received by 5:00 p.m.
Mid-March 2011 – Committee review complete; winning entry selected.
March 31, 2011 – Artists notified of contest results.
April 15, 2011 – Submissions must be retrieved.
April 16, 2011 – Submissions not retrieved will be discarded.

Artist ideas must have an Alaska Railroad theme to be considered. In particular, the Alaska Railroad is interested in featuring Seward in an annual print within the next few years. Seward’s railroad history predates the federal government’s Alaska Railroad construction. This harbor town is also the Alaska Railroad’s southern terminus, where three railroad docks provide essential marine-to-rail links for freight, coal and passenger transportation. Nestled within the Kenai Fjords, Seward has dramatic mountain and marine backdrops and a dynamic harbor, offering many possibilities for artistic portrayals. While not mandatory, submissions that feature Seward will receive additional consideration this year.

The artist chosen to design the 2012 print will be paid $3,000, and be given 10 artist proofs and 20 posters. The artist must agree to participate in sale-and-signing events in Anchorage and in Fairbanks, typically organized in December (2011) or the following January (2012). The Alaska Railroad will pay for the artist’s travel expenses. The Alaska Railroad retains all and exclusive rights to the artwork.

A selection will be made by the end of March 2010. A committee will review the submissions and the successful artist will be notified by telephone and by U.S. mail. The selected artist can request access to Alaska Railroad property for research purposes by contacting Corporate Communications Officer Stephenie Wheeler at (907) 265-2671. Safety is of paramount concern at the Alaska Railroad, and coordination is required before entering Alaska Railroad property. The selected artist must complete the artwork by early September. Prints are typically made available to the public by early December.

Artwork that is not selected for the 2011 program will be returned to the submitting artists. In order to be returned by mail, submissions must include a self-addressed and stamped envelope. Artwork can also be retrieved in person.

Tanana Valley Railroad stories for 2011 - 2/16/11
Fairbanks Daily News-Miner

The Friends of the Tanana Valley Railroad will begin the Rail Stories programs on Feb. 15 and continue on the third Tuesday of each month through May 2011.

The February program will be "Railroads of Alaska Project Jukebox: On-line Access to Stories about the History of Railroads in Alaska" with Karen Brewster, Research Associate with UAF's Oral History Program.

The program begins at 7 p.m. in the TVRR Museum, Pioneer Park.

Project Jukebox highlights stories related to the history of railroads in Alaska and the role they played in changing the state's economy and transportation systems.

For more Information call 479-4535, e-mail Friends of Tanana Valley Railroad or visit Friends of Tanana Valley Railroad

[See story]

New Alaska Railroad CEO has admittedly 'atypical' career - 2/1/11
Alaska Journal of Commerce
By Sean Manget

New Alaska Railroad Corp. CEO Chris Aadnesen has an admittedly atypical background considering his successful railroad career.

[See story]

Railroad CEO expects improved revenues for fiscal 2010 - 2/1/11
Alaska Journal of Commerce
By Sean Manget

Alaska Railroad Corp. CEO Christopher Aadnesen expects 2009's net income uptick to continue into the 2010 fiscal year, with nearly $15 million netted when the 2010 financial report is audited and published.

[See story]

CEO predicts continued Alaska Railroad economic upturn - 1/29/11
Anchorage Daily News
The Associated Press

Alaska Railroad Corp. CEO Christopher Aadnesen says he's expecting the railroad's economic recovery that began during fiscal 2009 to continue through the current fiscal year.

According to its fiscal year 2009 annual report, the state-owned railroad netted about $14 million in profits. That was an increase from the prior fiscal year when the railroad netted $12.5 million.

[See story]

Tanana railroad bridge now estimated to cost $185 million - 1/27/11
Fairbanks Daily News-Miner
by  Dermot Cole

The Alaska Railroad now figures the half-mile Tanana River bridge at Salcha will cost "plus or minus" $185 million, up from earlier estimates of $160 million, the railroad told the Legislature today.

The railroad has most of the money it needs, but still has to come up with anywhere from $20 million to $60 million. The railroad is talking to the military about ways to bridge the funding gap.

[See story]

Alaska Railroad defends plans for $160 million Tanana River bridge - 1/25/11
Fairbanks Daily News-Miner
by  Dermot Cole

With federal and state funding in hand, the Alaska Railroad wants federal approval to move ahead with a $160 million bridge across the Tanana River near Salcha.

The railroad filed a formal response last week to complaints from the Environmental Protection Agency that the state-owned agency has not demonstrated a clear need for the proposed $800 million extension of the railroad to Delta.

[See story]

Latest chatter - 1/24/11
Submitted by John Combs

The railroad will bring back the student tour guide program in 2011. This program began in 1981, but was stopped as part of railroad cost reductions.

The United State Forest Service signed a 10-year lease for the Alaska Railroad's Freight Shed. They will occupy roughly two-thirds of the building and will move in by fall of 2011.
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Seward coal dust lawsuit moves forward - 1/12/11
Anchorage Daily News
From Elizabeth Bluemink

A federal judge this week allowed an environmental lawsuit involving coal-dust emissions in Seward to proceed in court.

In a 27-page ruling signed on Monday, Anchorage federal district Judge Tim Burgess denied motions by the Alaska Railroad and Aurora Energy Services to dismiss the case.

[See story]

Ex-ARR Alco unit heading to Virginia - 1/11/11
Submitted by Don Marenzi

ARR Alco RSD-1 # 1034 owned by the Smithsonian, and long on loan to/displayed at the State RR Museum of Pennsylvania in Strasburg, PA, is being moved to the Army Transportation Museum at Fort Eustis, Virginia.

The locomotive is being shipped on a flatcar. When I was at Strasburg last April, this move was being rumored, but with no time frame. The locomotive was loaded in December 2010, and the move is happening early January 2011.

I know that the Army Transportation Museum has wanted an Army RSD-1 for quite a while. Their curator mentioned that when I was there in 1984, they finally got one!

Attached is a photo I took on April 27, 2010 of the 1034. It was repainted as ARR in the early 1980's, but never lettered. It's paint job is showing the affects of outdoor display. I'd guess the ATM will repaint it as USATC. Hopefully, it will be displayed indoors.

The museum has a lot of neat stuff, including a USATC 2-8-0 that is a sister to ARR #551-562.
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Railroad plans 2 public hearings on projects around Southcentral - 1/10/11
Anchorage Daily News

The Alaska Railroad is holding two open houses to give the public an opportunity to review and comment on proposed projects for this year. The Anchorage event is 4 to 6:30 p.m. Tuesday at Anchorage Historic Depot, 411 W. First Ave. Emphasis will be on projects located in and around Anchorage and Southcentral.

[See story]


 
 

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© 2011 John Combs unless otherwise noted