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Alaska Railroad Puts a Price on Safety for Homeowners

By Mallory Peebles, Crime and Law Enforcement, Natural Resources and Parks Reporter, Fill-in Anchor, mpeebles@ktuu.com
Published On: Nov 12 2013 02:03:00 PM AKST

Multimedia Journalist Mallory Peebles, Editor Eric Sowl

ANCHORAGE, Alaska -

Homeowners living next to railroad tracks in Alaska have 180 days to move some of their property or pay a fine.

A new policy adopted by the Alaska Railroad Corp. requires some homeowners to pay for land they thought was theirs. 

Right-of-way use policy states that the railroad easement includes land 100 feet from the center of tracks. Any landscaping, sheds or other property within that boundary is subject to permitting and fees.

"Moneymaking is the last thing that will happen here," John Cook, a member of the corporation's board. "We're just hoping to cover our costs." 

For more than a year, the corporation it has held public meetings, sent informational flyers and spoken with people one-on-one about the issue.

Homeowners encroaching on the easement will have to pay $250 to apply for a permit, and if approved they will be charged 25 cents per square foot and a $200 yearly fee. 

Some homeowners live on bluffs, and they believe the 100-foot rule should be adjusted because they are farther from the tracks due to elevation. 

Pletcher has lived in the Oceanview neighborhood for more than 30 years and said there is no safety issue because of his lilac bushes or greenhouse. 

"If someone is causing a safety issue along the track I think [The Alaska Railroad Corporation] should deal with those persons on an individual basis," Pletcher said.