AECOM, Skanska-Clyde Joint Venture and Obayashi Corporation have landed the final engineering and construction contracts for Uinta Basin Railway, slated to serve the mineral, energy, agricultural, construction and manufacturing industries in northeastern Utah.
Behind the project is the state of Utah’s Seven County Infrastructure Coalition. On May 29, 2020, it sought Surface Transportation Board (STB) authority to build and operate the line, which it said would provide Basin shippers with a viable alternative to trucking—currently the only available transportation option. In September 2020, Drexel Hamilton Infrastructure Partners, LP and the Coalition executed an agreement to advance the line, whose construction and operations would be handled by Fort Worth, Tex.-based Rio Grande Pacific Corporation (RGPC). The Ute Indian Tribe of the Uintah and Ouray Reservation is an equity partner in the railway.
STB on Jan. 5, 2021 preliminarily approved the proposal on its transportation merits, subject to completion of environmental review. Its Office of Environmental Analysis (OEA) last summer issued a Final Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) for the project, identifying the 88-mile Whitmore Park Alternative as the environmentally preferred route, one of three analyzed. The line would extend from two terminus points near Myton and Leland Bench to a connection with the existing Union Pacific Provo Subdivision near Kyune (see map below). The route would include five tunnels, totaling 5.7 miles. The construction cost was estimated at approximately $1.35 billion.
RGPC—through its Rio Grande Pacific Group portfolio company Basin Railway Constructors LLC—late on May 13, 2022 announced the selection of three engineering and construction firms to handle the project, reporting that:
• AECOM will deliver final design of the railway “exclusive of its tunnels.”
• Skanska-WW Clyde Joint Venture will deliver construction of the railway “exclusive of its tunnels.”
• Obayashi Corporation will deliver final design and construction of the railway’s tunnels.
The firms’ commitment “to a tribal and local hiring preference, and to include within their teams to the greatest degree practical the construction and engineering firms located within the Uinta Basin and the counties of the Seven County Infrastructure Coalition” was a key selection criterion, according to RGPC.
“Numerous qualified and technically proficient engineering and construction firms, including most of the major firms in the U.S., pursued the Uinta Basin Railway project, and provided to us high-quality and creative responses,” RGPC Chairman and CEO Richard Bertel said. “AECOM, Skanska-Clyde and Obayashi provided the best fit to our project objectives of the firms we interviewed.”
“We’re thrilled to be chosen for the largest new railroad construction project in the U.S. since the 1970s,” WW Clyde Area Manager Garrett McMullin said. “We’re excited to be a part of creating new jobs and economic opportunities for rural Utah.”