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Five years ago, Utah state transportation planners studied building a railway for shipping Uinta Basin crude oil via Indian Canyon to the Union Pacific line in Price Canyon, but abandoned the idea as too costly in the face of a $5 billion estimate for punching tracks through the West Tavaputs Plateau’s complicated terrain.
Rail champions shifted their focus east, looking to extend a much longer rail connection out of the basin, connecting with the national rail network in Colorado near Craig, Rifle or Mack.
Yet after much planning and outreach geared toward a Colorado connection, the Seven County Infrastructure Coalition, the group leading the latest charge to rail the basin, has now selected Indian Canyon as the preferred route, insisting this 80-mile alignment could be built for $1.2 billion, dramatically less than previously estimated, thanks to a few adjustments.
“This route has the least environmental impact,” said Mike McKee, the former Uintah County commissioner who now heads the coalition. “The Craig route is less challenging terrain, but double the miles.”
The Salt Lake Tribune)
This coalition of seven eastern Utah counties formed a few years ago to develop high-dollar projects to get the state’s mineral resources to markets. Solving the Uinta Basin’s transportation bottleneck, which imposes severe limitation on production in Utah’s oil patch, is one of the coalition’s principal goals.
The coalition’s consultants will provide details on the proposed Uinta Basin Railway on Thursday at an open house from 5 to 7 p.m. at Independence High School in Provo.
An earlier state study said that without rail or some other transportation project, such as new pipelines or freeways, $30 billion worth of oil could remain undeveloped in the basin during the next three decades because of delivery constraints. The cost to Utah’s economy would be $10 billion and prevent creation of 27,000 jobs.
Through the years, 29 rail routes have been studied, but most were ruled out for a various reasons.
This article first appeared on www.sltrib.com
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