Hemphill Heading Uinta Basin Railway Project

Written by William C. Vantuono, Editor-in-Chief
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Rio Grande Pacific Corp. has named rail industry veteran Mark Hemphill to lead development and construction of the Uinta Basin Railway project, a $1.5 billion new-build that, when completed in late 2022 or early 2023, will serve northeastern Utah’s energy, mineral and agriculture industries. The new railroad is being built through a DBFOM (design-build-finance operate-maintain P3 (public-private partnership) comprised of Rio Grande Pacific, Drexel Hamilton Infrastructure Partners and the Seven County Infrastructure Coalition

Rio Grande Pacific will construct, operate and maintain the railway. Drexel Hamilton is commercializing and financing it. The Coalition will obtain federal environmental clearances. Hemphill has led studies of the railway since 2014 as a consultant to public and private clients seeking to advance the project as HDR Engineering, Inc.’s Director of Railway Consulting Services.

The Uinta Basin Railway will encompass approximately 80 route-miles, and interchange with Union Pacific Railroad and BNSF near Soldier Summit, Utah. Hemphill, who brings more than 38 years of railroad industry experience to Rio Grande Pacific, including rebuilding the war- and looting-damaged Iraqi Republic Railways in 2005-2006, will assemble the Rio Grande Pacific program management team that will procure the railway’s design and construction services, and will manage project delivery through to operational status.

“The railway will provide jobs, economic opportunity and tax revenue that supports schools and public services, in an area of Utah isolated from the national railway network,” said Hemphill. “The public-private partnership is the right team at the right time to build it.”

“Simply put, Mark Hemphill is a perfect fit for the job ahead—to lead the development, build-out and, ultimately, operation and maintenance what will be a world-class new railroad serving the people and industries of Utah’s Uinta Basin,” said Rio Grande Pacific Corp. President Robert Bach.

“Mark’s railway expertise, project management skills and his ability to navigate the nuances of public-private partnerships are a key asset to the Uinta Basin Railway Project team and the project itself,” said Seven County Infrastructure Coalition Co-Chairman Brad Horrocks. The Coalition consists of seven rural eastern Utah counties working collaboratively to develop infrastructure projects that benefit their member counties.

Rio Grande Pacific is a short line rail operator with properties in six states, and associated railroad services and construction companies. Drexel Hamilton teamed with Rio Grande Pacific subsidiary New Orleans & Gulf Coast Railway (Railway Age’s 2016 Short Line of the Year) to provide railway transportation for Drexel Hamilton’s $2.5 billion Plaquemines Liquid Terminal in Plaquemines Parish, La., which will become the largest oil export facility in the Western Hemisphere when complete in 2022.

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