You can comment on plan to build new line in Utah

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SALT LAKE CITY — The Surface Transportation Board has initiated an environmental assessment of a proposed rail line to connect Utah’s Uinta Basin with the national network in what could become one of the largest railroad-building projects in a generation.

The Uinta Basin Railway would connect South Myton Bench and Leland Bench, Utah with the Union Pacific’s Provo Subdivision over Soldier Summit, a distance of about 80 miles. The project dates back to 2012 when the U.S. Department of Transportation began studying a new rail line to reach the basin’s natural resources, specifically oil. The project has been enthusiastically supported by a number of local governments, which have formed a group called the Seven County Infrastructure Coalition.

The environmental assessment would help the government and backers of the project determine where the rail line could be built with the least amount of impact to the landscape, wildlife, and local communities. A 2013 assessment by HDR Engineering, Inc. found that the most likely route would require multiple bridges and tunnels and would have a ruling grade of 2.4 percent.

A 45-day public comment period on the draft assessment began on June 19 and will include public meetings in July in Ft Duchesne, Price, Roosevelt, and Salt Lake City, Utah and Craig, Colo.

The draft version of the environmental impact study can be viewed online: http://uintabasinrailwayeis.com
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