S 628

112th CONGRESS
1st Session

S. 628

To authorize the Secretary of the Interior to convey a railroad right of way between North Pole, Alaska, and Delta Junction, Alaska, to the Alaska Railroad Corporation.

IN THE SENATE OF THE UNITED STATES

March 17, 2011

Ms. MURKOWSKI (for herself and Mr. BEGICH) introduced the following bill; which was read twice and referred to the Committee on Energy and Natural Resources


A BILL

To authorize the Secretary of the Interior to convey a railroad right of way between North Pole, Alaska, and Delta Junction, Alaska, to the Alaska Railroad Corporation.

    Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America in Congress assembled,

SECTION 1. SHORT TITLE.

    This Act may be cited as the `Alaska Railroad Right of Way Extension Act of 2011'.

SEC. 2. FINDINGS.

    Congress finds the following:

      (1) Freight trains provide an efficient, reliable, all-weather transportation system that produce less greenhouse gas emissions and are 70 percent more fuel efficient than trucks for large loads. The American Association of Railroads reports that a freight train can carry 457 ton-miles per gallon of diesel fuel and are substantially more fuel efficient than other forms of surface transportation.

      (2) The Alaska Railroad Act (38 Stat. 305), which was signed into law on March 12, 1914, authorized the construction of a 1,000-mile rail line in the Territory of Alaska `to best aid in the development of the agricultural and mineral or other resources of Alaska . . . and so as to provide transportation of coal for the Army and Navy, transportation of troops, arms, munitions of war, the mails, and for other governmental and public purposes'.

      (3) The Alaska Railroad, which was constructed between 1915 and 1923, consists of only 467 miles of main line tracks. An additional 533 miles of tracks could be constructed under the original authorization.

      (4) An 80-mile rail extension between North Pole and Delta Junction--

        (A) would greatly benefit the Department of Defense, which has large training areas south of the Tanana River between Fairbanks and Delta Junction;

        (B) would provide access to the Joint Pacific Area Range Complex, which is currently limited to ice roads during winter;

        (C) would enable the United States Army to mobilize military units to a staging area immediately south of the Tanana River;

        (D) would enable the United States Air Force to move large freight to the Fort Greely missile intercept complete located near Delta Junction; and

        (E) would facilitate the economical movement of commercial freight and passenger transportation, including tourism.

SEC. 3. CONVEYANCE OF LAND IN ALASKA FOR RAILROAD RIGHT OF WAY.

    (a) Conveyance Authorized- The Secretary of the Interior, and such other Federal officials as may be necessary and appropriate, shall convey to the Alaska Railroad Corporation (referred to in this section as the `Alaska Railroad') all rights, title, and interests held by the United States to approximately 950 acres of land located between North Pole, Alaska, and Delta Junction, Alaska, for the purpose of constructing a railroad corridor and related support areas and structures.

    (b) Description of Property-

      (1) DETERMINATION- The exact acreage and final route configuration of the conveyance authorized under subsection (a) shall be determined pursuant to the National Environmental Policy Act of 1969 (42 U.S.C. 4321 et seq.) process conducted by the Surface Transportation Board.

      (2) SURVEYS- The legal description of the real property to be conveyed under subsection (a) shall be determined by surveys satisfactory to the Secretary of the Interior. The cost of the surveys shall be borne by the Alaska Railroad.

    (c) Additional Terms and Conditions-

      (1) IN GENERAL- The Secretary of the Interior, and such other Federal officials as may be necessary and appropriate, may require such additional terms and conditions in connection with the conveyances described in subsection (a) as may be appropriate to protect the interests of the United States.

      (2) SCOPE OF CONVEYANCE-

        (A) IN GENERAL- The interest conveyed to the Alaska Railroad by the United States under subsection (a) shall be a full title interest, substantially equivalent to the title interest received by the Alaska Railroad under the Alaska Railroad Transfer Act of 1982 (45 U.S.C. 1201 et seq.) except as provided in subparagraph (B).

        (B) EXCLUSIVE USE RIGHT-OF-WAY- If the Secretary of the Interior, the Alaska Railroad, and such other Federal officials as may be appropriate concur, the interest conveyed to the Alaska Railroad in designated areas shall be an exclusive use right-of-way in perpetuity, to include the full rail and utility franchise with reversion to conveyance described in subparagraph (A) in the event of future Federal disposition of fee title.

      (3) CONSTRUCTION- The railroad extension shall be constructed in phases after the Surface Transportation Board has approved the entire route.

    (d) Consideration-

      (1) IN GENERAL- The Alaska Railroad, shall, in consideration for the land conveyed by the United States under this section--

        (A) convey, or cause to be conveyed, exchange property in accordance with paragraph (3);

        (B) pay the purchase price for such real property, in accordance with paragraph (4); or

        (C) pay other consideration as may be negotiated with the Secretary of Interior and other Federal officials, as appropriate.

      (2) NUMBER OF PAYMENTS- Conveyance and payment of consideration may be made through a single payment for the entire route or through separate payments for each portion of the route, as selected by the Alaska Railroad.

      (3) REPLACEMENT PROPERTY- If the Alaska Railroad chooses to provide consideration under paragraph (1)(A), the Alaska Railroad shall convey or cause to be conveyed, and pay the cost of conveying, to the United States, fee simple title to land that the Secretary of the Interior determines to be suitable in exchange for the property being conveyed to the Alaska Railroad.

      (4) PURCHASE PRICE- If the Alaska Railroad chooses to provide consideration under paragraph (1)(B), the Alaska Railroad shall pay the United States the fair market value of the real property conveyed by the United States based on its highest and best use, as determined by an independent appraisal commissioned by the Secretary of the Interior and paid for by the Alaska Railroad.

      (5) APPRAISAL- In carrying out an appraisal under paragraph (4)--

        (A) the appraisal shall be performed by an appraiser mutually acceptable to the Secretary of the Interior and the Alaska Railroad; and

        (B) the assumptions, scope of work, and other terms and conditions related to the appraisal assignment shall be mutually acceptable to the Secretary of the Interior and the Alaska Railroad.

      (6) PAYMENT TERMS- Payment of the appraised value for any land conveyed to the Alaska Railroad under this section shall be--

        (A) made by the Alaska Railroad to the United States upon completion of an as-built survey of the completed construction and receipt by the Alaska Railroad of formal conveyance; and

        (B) without interest or any escalation of the value due to the passage of time or development of the real property.

    (e) Pre-Conveyance Entry- The Secretary of the Interior, and other Federal officials as may be necessary and appropriate, on such terms and conditions as may be appropriate, may authorize the Alaska Railroad to enter upon the land to be conveyed to the Alaska Railroad at no charge for pre-construction and construction activities.

    (f) Savings Provision- Nothing in this section may be construed to affect the duties, responsibilities, or liability of the Federal Government under the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation and Liability Act of 1980 (42 U.S.C. 9601 et seq.) concerning any lands conveyed under this section.

END