Lee Davidson – The Salt Lake Tribune
After studying 26 possible routes for a rail line to transport crude oil from the Uinta Basin, the Utah Department of Transportation revealed Friday that only one is feasible.
That is a 100-mile route southwest to Price, roughly along U.S. 191, which would require a 10-mile tunnel through mountains. It could connect with national rail lines near Price, and take oil to Wasatch Front refineries or anywhere else in the nation to expand Utah energy markets.
But it comes with a huge price tag: roughly $2 billion, said John Thomas, UDOT project manager for the Uinta Basin rail environmental impact statement (EIS) process.
An earlier state study said that without the rail route or alternatives such as new pipelines or freeways, $30 billion worth of oil and gas may remain undeveloped in the basin during the next 30 years because of transportation constraints. It said that could cost Utah’s economy $10 billion and prevent creation of nearly 27,000 jobs.
The Utah Transportation Commission received the new rail assessment Friday at a meeting in Roosevelt. UDOT told the commission it plans now to begin a formal EIS to further evaluate that route — and potentially avoid derailing an expanded Uinta oil boom. (…)