Mat-Su Borough Moving Forward on Rail Spur

Port Mack Rail Spur

Port Mack Rail Spur

The Port Mackenzie Rail Spur took another step forward tonight. The spur will intersect with the current rail road just south of the little Susitna Bridge in Houston and run west of Big Lake all the way out to the Port.

Tonight the Mat-Su Borough planning commission approved a resolution to send to the assembly asking them to zone a piece of borough land as an Interim Materials District so that it could be used to mine gravel for the rail extension.

The Planning Commission wrestled with the sticky situation that always arises when the borough is asking permission from the borough. In this case, the borough is asking to create a zone for a gravel pit. There are certain criteria that must be met to create a materials district and the borough could not meet all of the criteria because some of it needs to be done in the future by a contractor that the borough will hire to actually mine the gravel. So the borough is asking the borough to change a little code for this particular site so that the rail spur can move forward. It’s all a little confusing and if a private party were involved we would all be screaming, “conflict of interest”.

The location of the grave pit is in the photo to the right, click on the photo to expand.

Borough Gravel Pit Site

Borough Gravel Pit Site

Almost all the members of the planning commission were uncomfortable with the situation but it still passed unanimously. To be fair…I probably would have voted for it as well were I in their place. No one wants to hold up the Port Development. But it was still a good illustration showing why the borough should be selling their land so that private parties can be the ones developing it.

So if the assembly approves, the borough will grant the borough permission to develop a gravel pit that will be permitted and monitored by the borough. The borough even has their own law department to help explain why it’s OK for the borough to do something in a way that a private party would not be able to do.

All in all, I’m happy that we are moving forward with the port development. This will be good for people in the Mat-Su Borough and for the rest of Alaska. I just wish that this pit were in private hands, it would be a lot cleaner to have an arms length situation.