The Surface Transportation Board’s Office of Environmental Analysis (OEA) has prepared an Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) on the Seven County Infrastructure Coalition’s (Coalition) proposed 85-mile rail line connecting two termini in the Uinta Basin near South Myton Bench, Utah and Leland Bench, Utah to the national rail network. The reasonable alternatives that OEA analyzed in detail in the EIS are the Indian Canyon Alternative, the Wells Draw Alternative, and the Whitmore Park Alternative, as described in further detail below:
- The Indian Canyon Alternative would be approximately 80 miles long and would connect an existing rail line owned by Union Pacific Railway Company (UP) near Kyune, Utah to a terminus point in the Uinta Basin near Leland Bench, Utah, approximately 9.5 miles south of Fort Duchesne, Utah. Starting at Leland Bench, this route would proceed westward, past the South Myton Bench area, until intersecting Indian Canyon approximately 2 miles south of Duchesne, Utah. After entering Indian Canyon, the route would turn southwest and follow Indian Creek upstream toward its headwaters below Indian Creek Pass, paralleling U.S. Highway 191 for approximately 21 miles. The Indian Canyon Route would use a summit tunnel to pass through the West Tavaputs Plateau and, after emerging from the tunnel, would descend the Roan Cliffs to reach Emma Park, an open grassy area at the base of the Roan Cliffs. The route would then run westward through Emma Park and connect to the UP Provo Subdivision near the railroad timetable station at Kyune. The route would cross land owned or managed by the State of Utah, the U.S. Forest Service (USFS), the Bureau of Land Management (BLM), and the Ute Indian Tribe.
- The Wells Draw Alternative would be approximately 105 miles long and would connect an existing UP rail line near Kyune, Utah, to two terminus points in the Uinta Basin near South Myton Bench and Leland Bench, Utah. The lines from those two terminus points would meet at a junction approximately 6.5 miles south of South Myton Bench. From the junction, the Wells Draw Route would run southward, generally following Wells Draw toward its headwaters. After reaching the headwaters of Wells Draw, the route would turn westward and enter Argyle Canyon. It would remain on the north wall of Argyle Canyon for approximately 25 miles, eventually reaching the floor of the canyon near the headwaters of Argyle Creek. The route would then enter a summit tunnel through the West Tavaputs Plateau and, after emerging from the tunnel, would descend the Roan Cliffs to reach Emma Park. The route would run westward through Emma Park and connect to the UP Provo Subdivision near the railroad timetable station at Kyune. The Wells Draw Route would cross land owned or managed by the BLM and the State of Utah. It would not cross USFS or tribal land.
- The Whitmore Park Alternative was developed based on information obtained through the scoping process (including data collection, technical evaluations, and public outreach). The Whitmore Park Alternative would be approximately 85 miles long and would be similar to the Indian Canyon Alternative for much of its length. The Whitmore Park Alternative would deviate from the Indian Canyon Alternative in areas to the north and south of Indian Canyon in order to avoid or minimize impacts identified during scoping, including impacts on residences and impacts on greater sage-grouse leks in the Carbon Sage-Grouse Management Area. The Coalition has identified the Whitmore Park Alternative as the Coalition’s preferred alternative. In the Final EIS, OEA identifies the Whitmore Park Alternative as the environmentally preferred alternative.
For more information on the alternatives considered and selected for the final scope of study, see the December 13, 2019 Federal Register Notice of Availability of the Final Scope of Study.