First major rail project in 30 years clears final regulatory hurdle

Written by Bill Wilson, Editor-in-Chief
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The project will provide a direct link for oil from Utah to the Gulf Coast.
David C. Lester

The wheels of the Uinta Basin Railway project, which will be built to help haul oil, are being greased.

Construction could begin as early as next year after the U.S. Forest Service dismissed an objection to a right-of-way the agency granted through Utah’s Ashley National Forest.

It was the final regulatory obstacle the project faced, and in a letter Deputy Regional Forester Deborah Oakeson said the decision on the right-of-way was sound.

The project will cover 85 miles and will require the construction of several tunnels and bridges, and the price tag currently sits at $1.5 billion. The Seven County Infrastructure Coalition is joining forces with many for this public-private partnership. Drexel Hamilton Infrastructure Partners will raise private capital for the build and Rio Grande Pacific Corp. will operate and maintain the line once completed. AECOM has been chosen to lead the design, and WW Clyde, Skanska, and Obiyashi Corp. will help with construction. It will be the first major rail project built in the U.S. in the last 30 years.

Transportation bottlenecks in the northeast Utah basin are keeping oil distribution at just 90,000 barrels a day, and the 85-mile line will provide a direct link to the Gulf Coast.

The Surface Transportation Board has approved the route, but several environmental groups and Eagle County, Colo., have filed lawsuits against the decision.

Read more articles on track construction.

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