U.S. President Donald Trump has issued a presidential permit granting approval to a $22-billion freight rail project connecting Alaska and Alberta.
The president had tweeted his intent to issue the permit on Friday, based on the recommendations of Alaska Senator Dan Sullivan and Congressman Don Young, before officially granting the A2A Rail project the go-ahead on Monday.
The permit issues A2A Rail permission to “construct, connect, operate, and maintain railway facilities at the international border of the United States and Canada.”
The project would build a new rail line from Fort McMurray, Alta., through the Northwest Territories and Yukon to the Delta Junction in Alaska, where it will connect with existing rail and continue on to ports near Anchorage.
The 2,570-kilometre railway could move cargo like oil, potash and ore, container goods, or even passengers.
A2A founder Sean McCoshen thanked Trump, as well as Alaska Governor Mike Dunleavy, the state’s congressional delegation and legislature for their support.
“The issuance of a presidential permit is a significant milestone that will greatly assist with our continued efforts to build the A2A railway,” the founder of the Calgary-based company in a release.
“This is a world-class infrastructure project that will generate thousands of jobs for American and Canadian workers, provide a new, more efficient route for trans-Pacific shipping and link Alaska to North American transportation networks.”
The company said in the release that the railway will provide a “missing link” between Alaska and other rail systems in North America.
“This rail link will be the anchor tenant of a major northern development corridor; the purpose of which is to facilitate economic development, rural household service provision, and other opportunities to the communities in this isolated region,” the company said.
A spokesperson for Alberta Premier Jason Kenney had said in an emailed statement over the weekend that the premier welcomed the approval.
“The Government of Alberta is glad to see the approval of the A2A rail project in the United States,” the spokesperson said.
“We support the development of trade corridors that can unlock new markets for Alberta’s products.”
The next steps will include engagement with Indigenous groups, going through environmental impact assessments, and obtaining the correct regulatory approvals in both the U.S. and Canada.
In July, the company commissioned an engineering firm to begin surveying land along the Alberta segment of the proposed route. It said it planned to begin field activities like land clearing, fencing and access road preparation in the province in the next three to six months.
A2A Rail has said that if built, the project will create more than 18,000 jobs for Canadian workers and bring in $60 billion to the country’s GDP through 2040.
The company estimates construction could be complete in 2025, and the railway could be operational by 2026.
Presidential border crossing permits are required for all cross-border infrastructure projects in the U.S.
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