SALINA to LEVAN
The Salina to Levan line would haul coal and commodities from Salina to the UP main line at Levan. There is a coal load out at Levan supplied by trucks from the mines located near Nioche, east of Salina, at this time. The plan is to truck the coal to Salina for loading to rail cars. As an added note, the D&RGW had a branch from Salina to the Nioche area back in the good old days to serve the mines.
SURFACE TRANSPORTATION BOARD
Finance Docket No. 34075 Six County Association of Governments - Construction and Operation Exemption - Rail Line between Levan and Salina, Utah
Decided: April 28, 2004
Construction and Operation Exemption
SERVICE DATE - DECEMBER 24, 2003
SURFACE TRANSPORTATION BOARD
Finance Docket No. 34075
Six County Association of Governments - Construction and Operation Exemption - Rail Line between Levan and Salina, Utah
Decided: December 19, 2003
ACTION: Notice of Availability of Draft Scope of Analysis for the Environmental Impact Statement.
SUMMARY: On July 30, 2001, the Six County Association of Governments (SCAOG), a regional association representing Juab, Millard, Sevier, Sanpete, Piute, and Wayne counties in central Utah, filed a Petition for Exemption with the Surface Transportation Board (Board) pursuant to 49 U.S.C. 10502 for authority for construction and operation of a new rail line between Levan and Salina, Utah. The project would involve approximately 43 miles of new rail line and ancillary facilities to serve shippers in central Utah, particularly Southern Utah Fuels Company (SUFCO) coal operations. Because the construction and operation of this project has the potential to result in significant environmental impacts, the Board's Section of Environmental Analysis (SEA) has determined that the preparation of an Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) is appropriate. SEA held public scoping meetings as part of the EIS process, as discussed in the Notice of Scoping Meetings and Request for Comments published by the Board on October 20, 2003. As part of the scoping process, SEA has developed a draft Scope of Analysis for the EIS.
SEA has made available for public comment the draft Scope of Analysis contained in this notice. SEA will issue a final Scope of Analysis shortly after the close of the comment period. Written comments on the Scope of Study are due January 26, 2004.
Filing Environmental Comments: Interested persons and agencies are invited to participate in the EIS scoping process. A signed original and 10 copies of comments should be submitted to:
Surface Transportation Board
Case Control Unit
STB Finance Docket No. 34075
1925 K Street, NW
Washington, DC 20423-0001
For Further Information Contact:
Ms. Phillis Johnson-Ball
Section of Environmental Analysis
Surface Transportation Board
1925 K Street, NW, Washington, DC 20423-0001
Surface Transportation Board Website
Draft Scope of Analysis for the EIS
Proposed Action and Alternatives
The proposed action, known as the Central Utah Rail project, involves the construction and operation of approximately 43 miles of new rail line connecting the existing Union Pacific Railroad (UPRR) line near Levan, Utah, to a proposed coal transfer terminal facility near Salina, Utah. Implementation of the proposed project would restore rail service to the Sevier Valley, providing a more direct connection to rail service for the coal industry (primarily SUFCO), provide rail service to other shippers in the Sevier Valley, and reduce the number of trucks on highways in the Sevier Valley.
The reasonable and feasible alternatives that will be evaluated in the EIS are (1) construction and operation of the proposed project, (2) the no-action alternative, and (3) alternative alignments identified during the scoping process.
Full Text of Decision at:
Six Counties seek Approval for new rail line
By petition filed on Jul30, the Six County Association of Governments (Six County) seeks an exemption in their filing with the Surface Transportation Board in order to construct and operate a 43-mile line of railroad between Salina, UT, and a connection with a line of the Union Pacific Railroad Company (UP) in the vicinity of Levan, UT.
As Six County requests, we will conditionally grant the requested exemption, and will issue a final decision after completion of the environmental review process, making the exemption authority effective at that time, if appropriate.
Six County is a voluntary association of local governments of Sevier, Juab, Sanpete, Millard, Piute, and Wayne Counties in Utah. Its general purpose is to act as an 'umbrella-type' organization to plan and develop programs with respect to various economic activities including, but not limited to, owning, acquiring, constructing, operating, and financing transportation facilities.
In this proceeding, Six County seeks authority to construct and operate a 43-mile rail line that would run between Salina, in an isolated area of the state, and the nearest active rail line, a UP line near Levan.
Proposed Rail Project In Central Utah Has Feds' Preliminary OK
Plans for construction of a new rail line in central Utah are moving full steam ahead after the federal Surface Transportation Board gave the proposal its tentative approval and a feasibility study concluded it could mean economic stability and industrial growth in the area.
The Central Utah Rail Project, proposed by the Six County Association of Governments, would be a 43-mile line from either Salina or Sigurd in Sevier County north through Sanpete County to either Mills Junction or Levan in Juab County, where it would tie into existing Union Pacific tracks.
The area had rail service until a mudslide during the Utah floods in 1983 wiped out the tracks at Thistle.
Malcolm, Nash, the economic development director for Sevier County and the project's manager, says the proposed short-line railroad is a retention project to provide a less expensive method for transporting coal mined by Southern Utah Fuels Co., (SUFCO), located about 30 miles east of Salina in Sevier County and Utah's largest coal mine.
The SUFCO Mine is crucial to the area's economic viability. Besides employing about 275 workers, the company also contracts with area trucking firms to deliver the coal to a railroad load-out facility in Levan 82 miles from the mine, making it one of the longest coal-haul routes in the country, Nash said.
Each weekday, the mine produces a steady stream of 600 trucks, each loaded with 43 tons of coal, for the trip to Levan, where it is loaded onto rail cars.
Nash says a new rail line would also benefit other businesses in the county, including a gypsum company and rock-salt extraction company. It would also be an enticement for other businesses to locate in the economically depressed region.
"First and foremost, a rail line would keep the coal mine competitive in an industry where the difference between securing a contract or losing one can be by pennies," says Nash. "A railroad near Interstate 70 would also enhance the transportation structure in central Utah, possibly creating an intermodal hub that could come together at a distribution center with access to markets across the country.''
A rail line would also make the area highways safer, reduce pollution and reduce highway deterioration. The Utah Department of Transportation says improvements costing up to $40 million are needed for state Route 28 because of coal traffic.
The Six County Association of Governments, which includes Sevier, Sanpete, Piute, Millard, Wayne and Juab counties, with headquarters in Richfield, proposed the rail line a year and a half ago. Nash says the project is expected to cost around $75 million and will likely be paid for with revenue bonds.
The decision by the Surface Transportation Board, which regulates the country's railroads, exempts the project from normal regulatory procedures because the project does not threaten shippers, is of limited scope and would foster sound economic conditions.
Nash says the exemption allows the project to proceed with an environmental study. Four alternative routes have been suggested for the project with the preferred route following the Sevier River Valley through western Sanpete County. The Six County Association is searching for a firm to conduct the environmental work it hopes to pay for with a $1.7 million federal grant.
SUFCO officials are supportive of a rail line, said Deck Slone, a spokesman for St. Louis-based Arch Coal Inc., which owns 65 percent of the mine through its subsidiary, Canyon Fuels.
The distance it must currently haul its coal puts the mine at a significant disadvantage, said Slone. The long-term viability of the mine would be greatly improved by a rail spur, he added.
He said the mine produces about 7 million tons of low-sulphur coal a year, which is shipped by rail from Levan to the Intermountain Power Project in Millard County and to a power generating facility near Las Vegas.
The rail line would cut trucking distance in half, says Sloan. Shipping costs from such a cut means the company would be better able to compete while allowing for potential expansion of the mining operation. The only reason the mine can compete now is because thick, uniform coal seams and long-wall mining machines make the operation one of the most efficient in the country, said Slone.
Once a route for the line is established, Slone said SUFCO would have to spend at least $10 million to build a new loading facility at Salina or Sigurd.
Public information meetings on the proposed line will be held in Juab, Sanpete and Sevier counties. The first one is scheduled for Nov. 27 at 7 p.m. in the American Legion Building, 50 S. State St. in Salina.
By Mark Havnes
The Salt Lake Tribune
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