| Connect Follow us on Twitter Like us on Facebook
About | Subscribe | Advertise


Download our free Marine Industry Coating Systems eResource Book

Paint and Coatings Industry News

Main News Page

AK Railroad Fights EPA On ‘11th-Hour’ Bridge Holdup

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

More items for Program/Project Management

Comment | More


The Alaska Railroad Corporation has asked the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to reject the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) attempt to stop construction of a bridge over the Tanana River.

The EPA’s objections could up-end the $800 million project, which has been in the works for years. The Surface Transportation Board approved the project a year ago after a four-year environmental review.

The railroad wants the Corps to grant the permits under the Clean Water Act, so work can begin on the Northern Rail Extension (NRE) project to Delta Junction. 

The project would extend the rail line from Eielson Air Force Base to Delta Junction in four phases and provide year-round access to military training grounds on the south side of the Tanana River.

Cancellation Threatened

“The recent actions by the EPA threaten to delay and possibly eliminate Phase 1 of the NRE, effectively canceling the entire project,” the ARC said in a statement this week.
The NRE project has been under a formal environmental review at the direction of the Surface
Transportation Board (STB) since 2005; an Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) was published in the fall of 2009.

On Jan. 5, 2010, the STB issued a formal Record of Decision approving the route to Delta Junction. 

The decision gave the Alaska Railroad a green light to proceed with filing for permits to begin the design and engineering of Phase 1. 

EPA Reversal

After nearly four years of environmental analysis, the EPA concurred in 2009 with the alternatives considered by STB and the selection of Salcha as the river’s crossing point as described in the Draft EIS document.

Now, the railroad says, “the EPA has suddenly reversed its position in two letters to the Corps of Engineers (November and December 2010) and elected to impede the adjudication of the Corps of Engineers’ permitting process by challenging these fundamental findings from the EIS.”
“To say we are disappointed in the EPA’s recent actions would be an understatement,” said Alaska Railroad Vice President of Engineering and Chief Engineer Tom Brooks.  “The EPA concurred with the STB that this should be the preferred route.

“Having the EPA come back at the 11th hour and try to circumvent the environmental process by now objecting to the findings to which they previously agreed puts this project in serious jeopardy.” 

‘Skewed’ Results

Neither EPA not the Corps of Engineers has responded to the railroad’s request.

The railroad said it had learned of the EPA’s objections only after applying for permits required under the Clean Water Act to begin the project.

“One of the EPA’s more egregious claims is the Tanana River should be considered an ‘Aquatic Resource of National Importance’ under Section 404(q) of the Clean Water Act,” the railroad said.  
The Alaska Railroad responded that the NEPA process executed by STB “is required to weigh the entire suite of environmental impacts in the approval of the project, rather than allow a single regulatory concern to skew result[s].

“The Alaska Railroad supplemented the Corps of Engineers permit application with further minimization and ‘avoidance of impacts’ through additional and more costly design refinements than the EIS provided,” the railroad said. 

“The Alaska Railroad has worked diligently in its outreach efforts to regulatory agencies throughout the process, meeting directly with agency representatives numerous times to assist them in fully understanding the enormous volume of technical information for this complicated project.”

‘Train Has Left the Station’

ARRC Project Manager Brian Lindamood said, “If the EPA has concerns of this magnitude relating to the bridge size, or location, they had ample opportunity to voice those concerns directly to the STB during the EIS process.

“To our knowledge, they either did not, or failed to make a credible argument as is evident in the STB’s Record of Decision,” said Lindamood. “We believe as a function of process, and a matter of law, that train has left the station.”

The NRE project is supported by funds from the Department of Defense and the State of Alaska. 

The project has four phases:

• Phase 1 calls for a bridge over the Tanana River near Salcha. That would provide, for the first time, year-round surface access to substantial military training grounds on the far side.

• Phases 2 through 4 would extend the rail line southeast, about 80 miles to Delta Junction.  


Tagged categories: Bridges; Construction; EPA; Government

Comment from John Hagopian, (1/27/2011, 1:53 AM)

The EPA should not have the power to stop or delay this project after all that has transpired. It`s another travesty of governmental incompetence.

Comment from Tom Gibbons, (1/28/2011, 11:16 AM)

From the information in this article, it would appear on the surface that someone at the EPA is guilty of misfeasance or malfeasance, and possibly liable for both civil and legal prosecution. To circumvent a decision in a process in which they were a participant and offer no objections certainly smells of an attempt to circumvent due process and responsibility.

Comment from James Johnson, (1/28/2011, 11:58 AM)

This is not the first project the EPA has done this to. The EPA has gotten totally out of control, and our Congress needs to address the issue. I am all for protecting the environment, but it is impossible to exist and survive and not have some impact, but it appears the EPA does not care if we live or exist. I believe it is time we each contact our Congressmen and begin defunding this agency. Even the EPA is sensitive to someone touching its funding.

Comment Join the Conversation:

Sign in to our community to add your comments.

Armakleen Company, The
ARMEX when nondestructive cleaning is critical

The gentle physical propriety of baking soda but yet aggressive cleaning ability is what makes ARMEX the only choice for nondestructive abrasive blasting.

SAFE Systems, Inc.
Custom blast rooms
by SAFE Systems

Don't waste time and money "making do" with a "standard" design. Let us work with you to design and build the
system that best fits
your requirements.
Call 1-800-634-7278

Heat-FLex® Hi-Temp 1200

Improved Corrosion
Enhanced Durability
Faster Shop Throughput

Absolute Equipment/Grand Rental Station
Portable Power from Absolute Equipment

•Lighting Systems
•Light Compaction
Sales • Rental • Service
Call 1-866-931-6655
Over a century of
providing excellence.

Termarust Technologies
Termarust (HR CSA) Chemically Stops
Active Corrosion

Pipeline Utility Aerial crossings coated since 1992. Termarust's (HR CSA) was used to overcoat lead paint and preserve cables, pipes and support towers.

Minerals Research & Recovery


“Made in the USA!”

Why recycle waste from other countries? Go FASTER, CLEANER, at 1/3 THE COST with MR&R “All-American” Sharpshot®HP!!


Safway Services
One Source. Every Solution.

The Safway Group is your source for multiservices. Painting, coating, insulation and more – all from the most trusted name in the industry.

U.S. Zinc
Historic Reliability. Innovative Performance.

As an industry leader with an established global footprint, we provide the products that prolong the life your paints and coatings. U.S. Zinc – Helping the world work™

Wasser High-Tech Coatings Inc.
Wasser Coatings Protect

Wasser Coatings offer a complete range of Moisture Cure Urethane (NEPCOAT approved) systems in addition to Polyurea membranes and linings(NSF).

Technology Publishing

The Technology Publishing Network

The Journal of Protective Coatings & Linings (JPCL) PaintSquare
Durability + Design Paint BidTracker

EXPLORE:      JPCL   |   PaintSquare News   |   Interact   |   Buying Guides   |   Webinars   |   Resources   |   Classifieds
REGISTER AND SUBSCRIBE:      Free PaintSquare Registration   |   Subscribe to JPCL   |   Subscribe to PaintSquare News
MORE:      About   |   Privacy policy   |   Terms & conditions   |   Site Map   |   Search   |   Contact Us

© Copyright 2000-2015, Technology Publishing / PaintSquare, All rights reserved
2100 Wharton Street, Suite 310, Pittsburgh PA 15203-1951; Tel 1-412-431-8300; Fax 1-412-431-5428; E-mail