Individuals involved with the Uinta Basin Railway Project took time on Monday morning to discuss the progress, as well as the future steps, of the project.
Those that discussed the project were Mark Hemphill, Pam Juliano and Mike McKee. First, Hemphill spoke on how the project is a public-private partnership with the public aspect being the Seven Country Infrastructure Coalition and the private partnership consisting of two parties.
Hemphill assured that he anticipates the shipper commitments and financing to be complete by March 2020. Following that, the construction, operation and maintenance will begin after the final engineering that is also slated for March. They anticipate to complete the outline in Dec. 2020 or Jan 2021. Those involved in the project anticipate having the railroad ready for operation in late 2022 or early 2023.
Hemphill did remark that he believes that they are considerably ahead of schedule. The project began in August of 2018 and they anticipated beginning construction in 2022. With that in mind, they believe they are a year ahead of schedule. McKee agreed with this sentiment, stating that they were given three years to construct the railroad and he believes they can complete it in two.
The current goal at hand is to complete the environmental process. The coalition obtained a grant from the Community Impact Board last year. That grant money is being used to pay for the conceptual engineering of the road and the environmental impact survey. Managing the environmental impact statement is imperative.
Other topics, such as communications with those on tribal lands as well as the partnerships with the coalition, Utah elected officials at the state and federal levels as well as both Utah senators, were discussed.
However, what was cited as most exciting by all involved is the economic development that the project is going to bring.
Hemphill remarked that they are excited about the project and the opportunity to really help Eastern Utah. The Uinta Basin has been challenged for some time due to not having great transportation options out of the Basin. There is no freeway, major airport or rail. This makes the railroad not only valuable to the Basin, but also valuable to those in Carbon and Emery counties as well as the project will bring rail traffic and jobs to the area.
McKee stated that there has been discussion of a possibility of 50 to 100 jobs gained in the area. “This is an exciting project. It is not very often that we have a project that has the ability to make a difference in your life like this one,” McKee concluded.