President Donald Trump says he is issuing a presidential permit for what’s known as the A2A cross-border rail between Alaska and Canada.
“Based on the strong recommendation of @SenDanSullivan and @repdonyoung of the Great State of Alaska, it is my honor to inform you that I will be issuing a Presidential Permit…” he wrote on Twitter, ignoring Sen. Lisa Murkowski. “Congratulations to the people of Alaska & Canada!”
Sources say Congressman Young has been dogged in his pursuit of the rail line permit, calling the President’s chief of staff on numerous occasions to get the White House’s attention to advance the project, which requires presidential permission in order to cross a border.
Sen. Sullivan spoke with the president in the hours leading up to the announcement, according to MRAK sources.
The A2A line is a private project that has been in the works for years to build a new railway connecting the Alaska Railroad, and Alaska’s tidewater deep port in Anchorage, to northern Alberta, where oil is trapped and unable to get to market.
The project is 1,600 miles long. From there, rail connections link Alaska to the rest of North America. Among those instrumental in working the project hurdles are Alaska’s delegation in Washington, D.C., Gov. Mike Dunleavy, and former Lt. Gov. Mead Treadwell, who serves as vice chair of the project at A2A.
More than $60 million has already been committed to the project that will move Alberta oil to the Port of Alaska and global markets beyond. Currently, other ports on the West Coast are in places where the politics are not supportive of such a project that involves resource development.
But with Alaska’s pro-jobs governor and team in Washington, the $17 billion project could come to fruition.
The company has an agreement with the Alaska Railroad Corporation to create a joint operating plan to upgrade and extend the Alaska Railroad mainline between Seward to North Pole.
“It’s basically a large civil construction project that would include a rail corridor of about 500 feet wide across a route that is relatively straight and relatively flat,” Treadwell told a reporter in 2019.
In addition to moving Canadian oil to tidewater on the West Coast, the rail line can also move minerals.
The A2A would come through the Yukon Territory and Fort Nelson, British Columbia, connecting in Fort McMurray, Alberta.
The project envisions a single steel rail line with sidings so trains can travel in both directions. It would require switching yards, water and wastewater facilities, power lines and fiber optic cable. Of the $17 billion construction budget, $14 billion would be spent in Canada. The remaining $3 billion to be spent in Alaska eclipses numerous years of Alaska’s meager capital budgets, which have been in the low hundreds of millions each year.