Road graders and earthmovers began work yesterday to bring Nine Mile Canyon Road far from its 19th century roots to 21st century standards through 36 miles of southeast UtahвЂ™s Castle Country.
Hard-surfacing the Civil War-era roadway is the product of cooperative efforts by the State of Utah, Carbon and Duchesne counties, and oil and gas producer Bill Barrett.В Officials behind the financing for the $20 million project were on hand Monday at Gate Canyon for the start of the project. The price tag for the work equates to over a half a million dollars per mile.
вЂњOur $5 million in this project is part of our on-going investment into a key county corridor that serves multiple uses,вЂќ said Carbon County Commissioner John Jones. вЂњImproving public safety, the guest experience and protecting cultural artifacts require resources only made possible by a healthy local economy. In Carbon County that means responsible natural resource development.вЂќ
Bill Barrett Corporation (BBC) has utilized Nine Mile Canyon Road since 2002 when the company acquired leases atop the West Tavaputs Plateau. Since then, the company has spent over $1 billion developing the natural gas resources on the plateau, much of that locally; several billion more are expected to be invested over the life of the project as the company works to recover some 1.3 trillion cubic feet of natural gas. Millions more have been spent to protect artifacts, including a company-sponsored fund referred to by one Salt Lake City newspaper as вЂњA Gift for the AgesвЂќ for the cultural resources in the canyon.
вЂњRoads are particularly important to rural communities, so itвЂ™s nice to be improving roads instead of repairing themвЂќ said Duchesne County Commissioner Kent Peatross. вЂњThe West Tavaputs project means a good 10-20 years of significant capital investment in our area, and that means good-paying year-round jobs that help allow our young people to raise their own families where they themselves grew up. Royalties and severance taxes will mean tens of millions of dollars for the State of Utah and our counties every year.вЂќ
The Bureau of Land Management (BLM) is conducting an Environmental Assessment (EA) on potential impacts to federal lands adjacent to the road. The EA assesses protections for several aspects of the area such as vegetation, soils, cultural resources, air, water and more.
WW Clyde of Salt Lake City has the construction contract; the project is engineered by Jones and DeMille with offices in Price.
For more information on the West Tavaputs projects, see www.tavaputs.com