Uinta Basin Railway Project, Utah, USA

The Uinta Basin Railway is a new freight line that will be built in Duchesne, Carbon, Utah, and Uintah counties in the state of Utah, United States. Credit: Rio Grande Pacific Technology.

The 136.7 km long railway line will provide alternative transportation infrastructure to several industries in the Uinta Basin region. Credit: foras05/Shutterstock.com.

The freight line project was approved by the Surface Transportation Board in December 2021. Credit: DCSHUTT/Shutterstock.com.

The Uinta Basin Railroad Project includes the development of a new freight line that will provide the first common carrier rail service to the Uinta Basin region in Utah, USA. United.

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The project aims to link the various industries of the Uinta Basin to the national rail network and create cost-effective additional transport infrastructure in the basin. It is expected to reduce congestion on highways and improve the safety of freight transportation.

It received final approval from the Surface Transportation Board, an independent arbitration panel under the U.S. Department of Transportation, in December 2021.

The approval came after the Surface Transportation Board’s Office of Environmental Analysis (OAS) prepared the final Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) for the project in August 2021.

It is estimated that the project will generate 100 new railroad jobs in Duchesne, Carbon and Uintah counties and up to 300 additional indirect and induced jobs.

Uinta Basin Project Partners

Project partners responsible for developing the rail line include the Seven County Infrastructure Coalition, Drexel Hamilton Infrastructure Partners (Drexel Hamilton) and Rio Grande Pacific.

The Seven County Infrastructure Coalition, which includes seven counties in Utah, focuses on sustainable infrastructure projects. His role in the project includes planning, studies and obtaining approvals. Rio Grande Pacific will operate and maintain the proposed rail line.

The Uinta Basin Railway project was started by the Seven County Infrastructure Coalition in 2018.

Uinta Basin Railway Project Details

The Uinta Basin Railroad project will include a single 85-mile (136.7 km) line running between two termini near the town of Myton in Duchesne County and Leland Bench in Uintah County , and an existing Union Pacific Railroad rail line near Kyune, Utah.

Three routes have been identified for the freight line, including an alternative to Indian Canyon, an alternative to Wells Draw, and an alternative to Whitmore Park. The Whitmore Park alternative was named the preferred option due to its reduced environmental impact compared to the other two routes.

The line should consist of continuously welded steel rails supported by steel, wood or concrete sleepers.

The line should not be electrified as this would lead to a higher investment associated with electrification, which could make the project unfeasible.

Construction of the Uinta Basin Railway

Temporary access roads will be constructed to access the railway embankment and tunnel portals, as well as bridges and drainage structures during the construction period.

The project will also include the construction of permanent access roads to allow access to rail sidings and long tunnels during operation.

The width of the track bed should be between 10 feet (3.04 m) and 20 feet (6.09 m) from the centerline to the edge of the sub-ballast. The track should be built on approximately 12 inches of sub-ballast and eight inches of ballast.

Construction will be undertaken using aggregate and rock material from Utah Department of Transportation (UDOT) certified quarries and ballast material from an existing quarry near Milford, Utah, or other quarries near Granite Canyon, Wyoming and Carr, Colorado.

The time required to complete construction is expected to vary between 20 and 28 months, depending on weather conditions.

Uinta Basin Railway Operation Details

The railway line is expected to transport mainly crude oil from the basin to markets across the country. Other industries that will also be served by the line include minerals, energy, agriculture, construction and manufacturing.

The number of trains that will run on the line is estimated between 3.68 and 10.52 trains per day on average. Each crude oil train is expected to consist of approximately 110 tank cars and have a maximum length of 10,000 feet (3,048 m), including locomotives and buffer cars.

Each train is expected to be powered by eight locomotives rated between 4,300 hp and 4,400 hp.

The line is estimated to transport between 130,000 and 350,000 barrels of oil per day

Funding for the Uinta Basin Railway

Drexel Hamilton will be responsible for the financing, development and construction of the Uinta Basin Railway project.

The investment required to complete the project is estimated between $1.2 billion and $1.5 billion, including the construction, operation and maintenance of the project.

The Utah Permanent Community Impact Fund Board provided $27.9 million in public funding for the planning and study of the railroad project.

Contractors involved

Aecom, a US-based engineering company, was selected for the final design of the rail project, excluding tunnels, in May 2022.

A joint venture (JV) between the Swedish construction company Skanska and the American company WW Clyde was contracted to build the railway project, excluding the tunnels.

Obayashi, a Japanese construction company, was awarded a contract to provide the final design and construction of the tunnels for the project.

Jones & DeMille Engineering, a US-based civil engineering firm, helped recruit consultants to perform conceptual design, environmental and freight analysis, public outreach and operations analysis and maintenance. He was also responsible for the project management of the work carried out by the consultants, the analysis of several routes and the realization of topographic surveys of the preferred routes.

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