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ALASKAN INTERNATIONAL HIGHWAY COMMISSION
APRIL 26, 1938.-Committed to the Committee of the Whole House on the state of
'the Union and ordered to be printed
Mr. Luther A. Johnson, from the Committee on Foreign Affairs,
submitted the following
[To accompany H. R. 8177]
The Committee on Foreign Affairs to whom was referred the bill (H. R. 8177) to create a Commission to be known as the Alaskan International Highway Commission, having considered the same, submit the following report thereon, with the recommendation that
it do pass:
This Government has for many years sought a basis of cooperation with Canada for the construction of a highway to Alaska. Because the major part of the territory to be traversed lies in the Canadian Province of British Columbia, an unsettled portion, difficulties have been encountered. Canada's desire to aid cannot be questioned. Its ability to share the cost of the portion of the road in British Columbia has remained the main obstacle. Were this territory between Alaska and the United States within the confines of our country, this road would have been built 25 or 30 years ago by our Government. Although most of the remaining construction is in Canadian territory, the benefits resulting are as great for us as for Canada. The feasibility and necessity for the highway to both countries is unquestioned. Now, more than ever, should the project be pushed and efforts made by both countries to reach a solution for its construction. By act of Congress, May 15, 1930 (46 Stat. 335), it was provided:
That the President is hereby authorized to designate a commission of three to cooperate with representatives of the Dominion Government in a study regarding the construction of a highway to connect the northwestern part of the United States with British Columbia, the Yukon Territory, and Alaska, with a view to ascertaining whether such a highway is a feasible and economically practicable project,
This Commission was appointed and made an exhaustive study of the project (Department of State, Publication No. 474, May 1933). They concluded the highway was a feasible project and that it could be built at a reasonable cost. They further said that the financing
. of the road should be primarily the responsibility of the nation within its own jurisdiction, but realized the possibility of equities involving other arrangements, and suggested that “any departure from the principle of primary responsibility of financing by each nation should be by international agreement." The Alaskan section proper offers no difficulties of financing under the provisions of the Federal road acts. The Congress in 1935 passed an act (49 Stat. 869) authorizing the President to proceed with negotiations with Canada, following this report. The President and the State Department have conducted negotiations. Canada has shown evidence of willingness to proceed. It is felt that the time is ripe for a specially appointed body to proceed with a like body to be appointed by the provincial government of British Columbia or the Dominion Government of Canada, or both, to confer on the prospect of arrangements .for building the road.
H. R. 8177, introduced by Representative Magnuson, of Washington, calls for the appointment by the President of a commission to be known as the Alaskan International Highway Commission, to confer with a like commission to be appointed by Canada in an effort to reach an agreement for the financing and building of the road. The Commission shall be without salary or appropriation, shall be appointed for 2 years, and shall work in cooperation with the Department of State and report to the Congress through the President.
Your committee feels that the legislation will, if enacted, go a long way toward speeding up an agreement with our friendly neighbor for a project vital to both countries. The benefits to be expected are innumerable. The development of Alaska by making the territory, now only accessible by water, accessible by road, would result in an increase in population and consequent increase in taxable contributions toward the Federal Government, in turn decreasing the present necessity of Federal appropriations for the maintenance of the Territory.
The road would be a great contribution to the welfare of the American citizens now living in Alaska by providing a physical connection with a vast continental road system. It would open a new country, now practically inaccessible, giving opportunity for settlement, investment and employment-a new frontier for America.
The new road would make accessible to the continental highway system the existing road net of over 900 miles now completed in Alaska proper.
It would traverse one of the most beautiful sections of the North American continent, providing new and valuable areas for recreation and exploration. Minerals abound in this section. The highway would act as a landmark for the fostering of the long-needed air service between Seattle, Wash., and Alaska. It would provide service for aviators along the most practicable flying route to the Territory and Asia. It would aid in the furtherance of friendly relations between Canada and the United States. It would be the last link in the vast road system from Alaska to South America and help knit closer together all of these countries. It would aid in the defense of both countries and would furnish a life line for the United States to its greatest and most valuable Territory. Military experts, both naval and military, have so testified and urged.
The route has been more or less agreed upon. The climate along the proposed route is such that maintenance would compare favorably with road maintenance in States in northern United States. One thousand one hundred and seventy-three miles of road between Seattle and Fairbanks are completed. One thousand one hundred and eighty-three remain to be constructed for the complete project. The cost would be approximately $15,000,000, to be borne by both governments in an equitable proportion to be agreed upon. It remains today the most feasible public-work project on the whole continent. The benefits resulting are inestimable. Your committee believes that Congress, in view of world conditions again calling our attention to matters of defense, in view of a contemplated public-works program to combat unemployment, and in view of the returns to be expected on the investment, could well now consider means toward placing this worthy project before the governments and people of both countries.
This legislation has been approved by the Department of State and the Bureau of the Budget. The Department states that the legislation is not in conflict with the program of the President.
The President of the United States has, on numerous occasions, evidenced his interest in the construction of this road. President Coolidge and President Hoover worked toward effecting a proper agreement with Canada in an effort to construct the highway. The project has been a matter of some concern and interest to every administration for the past 20 years. All have recognized it as a worthy, needed public-works project. The governments of the Province of British Columbia and other western Canadian provinces have always considered an Alaskan highway a matter of major concern during their administrations. The present Premier of British Columbia has been more than active in fostering this project. It appears, with all this evidence of desire for international cooperation to build the road, that all that remains to be done to culminate a plan of construction and finance, would be for two specially designated bodies to have the opportunity to sit around a table and work out the details. It is sincerely hoped and believed that this legislation will
. accomplish this purpose.
For the information of the House, there is inserted in this report a. letter from the Secretary of State, dated April 13, 1938, which is as follows:
DEPARTMENT OF STATE,
Washington, April 13, 1938. Hon. Sam D. McREYNOLDS,
House of Representatives. MY DEAR MR. McREYNOLDS: I have received your letter of January 17, 1938, in which you were good enough to say that the Committee on Foreign Affairs would be pleased to consider any further statement I might desire to submit in connection with H. R. 8177, to create a Commission to be known as the Alaskan International Highway Commission.
Pursuant to a request from the President, the American Minister at Ottawa was instructed on September 3, 1937, again to express to the Canadian Government our interest in the early construction of an international highway to connect the northwestern part of the United States with British Columbia, the Yukon territory and Alaska, and to endeavor to obtain the active cooperation of the Canadian authorities to this end.
While the discussions with Canada have not as yet produced tangible results, due in part to the natural desire of the Canadian Government to give our proposals the most careful study, we are not without hope that the active cooperation we desire will ultimately be obtained.
There would appear to be no objection to the passage of the bill insofar as the interests of this Department are concerned.
This report has been submitted to the Acting Director of the Bureau of the Budget who informs me that the proposed legislation would not be in conflict with the program of the President. Sincerely yours,
CONVEYANCE OF CERTAIN PORTIONS OF NED POINT
APRIL 26, 1938.—Committed to the Committee of the Whole House on the state
of the Union and ordered to be printed
Mr. BLAND, from the Committee on Merchant Marine and Fisheries,
submitted the following
[To accompany H. R. 9942]
The Committee on Merchant Marine and Fisheries, to whom was referred the bill (H. R. 9942) to authorize the conveyance of the Mattapoisett (Ned Point) Lighthouse Reservation at Mattapoisett, Mass., to the town of Mattapoisett, having had the same under consideration, report it back to the House with the following amendment and, as so amended, recommend that the bill do pass.
The amendment proposed by your committee is as follows:
Strike out all after the enacting clause and insert in lieu thereof the following:
That for a price of not less than 50 per centum of the appraised value of the property hereinafter authorized to be conveyed, as may be established by the Treasury Department after due allowance for the value of any improvements which the town of Mattapoisett, Massachusetts, may have already erected on the property, the Secretary of the Treasury is authorized and directed to convey, by quitclaim deed, to the board of selectmen of the town of Mattapoisett, Massachusetts, for roadway and public-park purposes, such portions of the Mattapoisett (Ned Point) Lighthouse Reservation, Massachusetts, as are not required to be retained for lighthouse purposes. The deed of conveyance shall describe by metes and bounds the exact portions of the reservation transferred, and shall contain a clause reserving to the United States easements for the transportation of men and materials to and from the area retained by the United States and for the unobstructed showing of light rays between 90 degrees and 310 degrees true seaward from the light tower. The said deed shall further provide that the said town of Mattapoisett shall take the property conveyed by said deed subject to any encroachments thereon and subject to any defects or deficiencies in area or description arising by reason of discrepancies between the description in the deed to the United States and the description in the deed to the town.
As so amended the bill conforms with the letter of the Assistant Secretary of Commerce to the chairman of your committee, dated April 19, 1938, with the accompanying memorandum from the Com