Utah’s Uinta Basin Railway Project Progresses

Written by Marybeth Luczak, Executive Editor

The proposed Uinta Basin Railway to be constructed in Utah now has a recommended route. The Surface Transportation Board’s (STB) Office of Environmental Analysis has issued a Draft Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) recommending the 88-mile Whitmore Park Alternative.

The state of Utah’s Seven County Infrastructure Coalition (Coalition) is seeking STB authority to construct and operate the Uinta Basin Railway.

In addition to a “no action” alternative, the STB analyzed the Whitmore Park Alternative, Indian Canyon Alternative (81 miles) and Wells Draw Alternative (103 miles). Each would extend from two terminus points in northeastern Utah’s Uinta Basin near Myton and Leland Bench to a proposed connection with the existing Union Pacific Provo Subdivision near Kyune (see map above).

The Whitmore Park Alternative includes five tunnels, totaling 5.7 miles, “to traverse the mountainous terrain surrounding the Basin” (see map below).

In September, Drexel Hamilton Infrastructure Partners, LP and the Coalition executed an agreement to advance the line; Fort Worth, Texas-based Rio Grande Pacific Corp. would handle construction and operations.

“Depending on future market conditions, between approximately 3.68 and 10.52 trains could move on the proposed rail line per day, on average, including both loaded and unloaded trains,” according to the Draft EIS. “The Coalition expects that those trains would primarily transport crude oil produced in the Basin, but could also carry frac sand, other proppant material, steel, machinery, or mineral and agricultural products and commodities into and out of the Basin.”

The Draft EIS also includes the STB’s preliminary recommendations for mitigating environmental impacts, as well as the Coalition’s voluntary mitigation measures.

A public review and comment period on the Draft EIS is being held until Dec. 14.

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