By Myrna Trauntvein
It is time to make thoughts known in the environmental
review process concerning the construction of a 43-mile line
of single-track rail line from Levan to Salina.
Juab County Commissioners were asked to submit
comments on the project by Victoria Rutson, Chief in the
Section of Environmental Analysis for the Surface
Transportation Board in Washington D.C.
"We would like everyone in the county who is
interested to have the opportunity to make comments on the
project," said Wm. Boyd Howarth, commission chair.
Commissioners agreed that all interested citizens
should be invited to make comments during this process.
"Anybody who has a comment is invited to send those
comments to the board," Robert Steele said.
It is anticipated that the community of Levan will
directly benefit from the railroad because, once it is
constructed, it will reduce the truck travel through the
Rutson did not make a specific estimate of the number
of trucks passing through Levan on a daily basis.
"Most segments of these loads currently carry 750
trucks per day, with 1,500 tucks passing through downtown
Salina each day at a rate of about one truck per minute,"
Reducing the number of trucks on these roads would
decrease roadway congestion and increase the quality of life
through towns impacted by the travel.
Not only will truck traffic through communities be
reduced by the rail line, but road surfaces will have longer
life. The wear and tear on state roads and interstate
highways will be decreased.
On July 30, 2001, the Six County Association of
Governments (SCAOG), which is made up of Sevier, Juab,
Sanpete, Millard, Piute, and Wayne Counties, applied to the
Surface Transportation Board for authority to construct and
operate a 43-mile line of new single-track rail line.
The line would operate in Sanpete, Sevier and Juab
"The proposed line begins at the connection with Union
Pacific Railroad's mainline near Levan," said Howarth.
The connection at Union Pacific would be a between the
Juab and Sharp Sidings, where the track would then travel
southward and east of Chicken Creek Reservoir. The rails
would generally follow a path near an existing power
transmission line that goes through the center of Juab
Juab Plain consists of the valley between the South
Hills to the west and the Skinner Peaks area to the
The proposed railroad then runs parallel with the
Easter boundary of Yuba Reservoir and continues east of the
reservoir until it reaches the point at which the reservoir
narrows at a point known as Yuba Hills. The line then
continues south, west of Yuba.
The railroad will then travel southward along the
western side of the Sevier Valley near areas where the
foothills intersect with irrigated farmlands and will
continue southward on the valley's western side passing on
the west of Redmond.
South of Redmond the track goes east toward the center
of the valley and crosses State Highway 50 west of Salina.
It then continues south, crossing State Highway 118 (once
known as Highway 89) and the Sevier River where it continues
west of the hills south of Salina.
The rail line goes south of the Salina industrial park
and ends in the Lost Creek area before Interstate 70.
The purpose of the project is to serve a number of
industries, primarily the coal industry. Coal mines owned by
the Southern Utah Fuel Company (SUFCO) are located 30 miles
east of Salina.
Because there is no rail line, SUFCO and other
industries, currently move all goods by truck.
Six County members think the proposed project would
reduce the number of coal trucks using portions of five
highways which include I-70, SR 50, I-15, SR 28 and SR
"Comments would be most helpful to us if they focused
on specific environmental issues or concerns pertaining to
your jurisdiction," Rutson informed commissioners.
One way the comments would be helpful is if they
centered on local, regional, and national transportation
systems including safety of freight operations, potential
traffic delay and highway/rail crossings.
Impacts to local land use plans; land ownership; air
emissions and air quality; noise impacts; historic, cultural
and archaeological resources; Native American populations,
land and cultures; impacts to prime, unique, and important
farmland should be addressed.
Another area of comments being sought deals with
biological resources, including threatened or endangered
species and wildlife migration routes, water resources,
including water quality and wetlands, and impacts to
low-income or minority populations.
The proposed right-of-way would be 100-feet side and
there would be an average of one to two trains per day.
"Most shipments would consist of coal from the SUFCO
coal mines," said Howarth.
It is anticipated that smaller quantities of petroleum
products, lumber products, nonmetallic minerals, wallboard
and plaster would be shipped via rail.
Comments need to be made by May 2, 2003 and should be
sent to Rick Black; HDR Engineering, Inc.; 3995 South 700
East, Suite 100; Salt Lake City, UT, 84107-2594; Attention:
Finance Docket No. 34075&emdash;Environmental Comments.
HDR Engineering, Inc. has been hired to assist in
preparing the environmental document.
Those with questions about the environmental review
process should contact Phillis Johnson-Ball, SEA's
Environmental Project Manager, at (202) 565-1530 or by
e-mail at Johnsonfirstname.lastname@example.org.