Local road issues were brought before the Utah Transportation Commission who met on Nov. 21 in Castle Dale. The commission was in the Emery County area where they toured local projects on Nov. 20 and met in the Emery County Commission Chambers for their monthly board meeting. Introductions of those on the board took place and Commissioner Bevan Wilson from Huntington who sits on the transportation commission introduced county and local government officials who were present at the meeting.
Coal traffic on SR-10 was discussed and the different directions the coal comes from into the Hunter Plant near Castle Dale. The power company is concerned about access and moving the traffic more safely and efficiently. Emery County, UDOT and PacifiCorp are trying to identify the best solution for access to the Hunter Plant. Dal Hawks, region four director, mentioned that they will expect PacifiCorp to help with the construction costs involved with such an improvement project.
It is estimated the bid for the Quitchupah road will be advertised in late 2004. Funding for that project could be through county bonds where the coal trucks would be charged a fee to pay back the costs of building the road. This road would shorten the distance from Sufco mine to SR-10 and reduce the time required to make a trip.
An overlay project from Emery to I-70 is also in the works. The design is almost complete for the Castle Dale intersection and some drainage problems need to be addressed. In the Helper interchange project, the bids exceeded the money available so the project wasn't awarded. Plans will be reviewed and refined and it is UDOT's hope to proceed next spring. Projects on SR-6 will include some passing lanes by Sheep Creek and at mile post 226-228 in Price Canyon. The bridge by the port of entry will also be rehabilitated and needs addressed relating to congestion and safety at the port. Five lanes of traffic will also be constructed between Price and Wellington. A new planning engineer is also going to look at the problems on the Ridge Road south of Price.
Mike Dmitrich, State Senator, complemented the commission on the improvements to SR 6 and 10. He is also glad they are making improvements to I-70 from Emery. Plans are underway to reopen Consol and ship a lot of coal so those improvements are needed. Sen. Dmitrich said he had been in a meeting where Gov. Olene Walker wants to take centennial highway funds and funnel them into education. Sen. Dmitrich said he opposes such an action and that it is not feasible as these funds would have to be replaced. He said the rural caucus has become quite powerful in the Senate and some urban legislators are also on board and the governor's proposal didn't fly well with them either. "It would be a disaster to rural Utah and I will continue to fight it," said Sen. Dmitrich.
Rep. Brad King said he was glad to see the commission in rural Utah so they could break out and see for themselves how things are and to get good information from the local people. He said his district stretches to Moab and his constituents there have some issues with the Main Street project and a traffic light at 400 East which they didn't want to see go in unless there is a realignment. Rep. King said the commission has been doing an exemplary job and he will stay involved in working with the legislature on transportation in rural Utah issues. He said they fight a tough battle in the legislature in dealing with rural and urban traffic issues. If local projects have to come up with a match then another project will never be completed in rural Utah. "Everyone loses when safety doesn't take priority, it is frustrating to work with the legislature, but I will continue to do so and I appreciate what the transportation commission does," said King.
Debra Dull, region communications manager for PacifiCorp addressed the meeting. She said their main responsibility is the delivery of power to their customers. She said Utah Power works very closely with those involved in road projects, because they are almost always effected in some way. They are always called on to move power poles and sometimes to relocate substations. She said a gas/turbine project near Mona could increase truck traffic in that area which could cause a concern. "Thanks for the work on SR 6 and 10, they are much safer," said Dull.
Carl Pollastro talked about the Hunter Plant and the coal needed to keep the plant operating. He said they buy coal from both Emery and Carbon counties and this coal all has to be transported by truck into the plant. Ninety-seven trucks per day are entering the Huntington Plant with 4,000 tons per day being brought in from the Sevier County/Emery area. The Hunter Plant burns 4.7 million tons per year. Trucks are entering the plant at the rate of 610 truckloads per day. The Hunter Plant is looking to expand their coal storage area so they can blend the coal to create the exact match needed for the plant. He also said they are expanding at their Deer Creek facility into Rilda Canyon and there are some real access issues with a blind corner in Huntington Canyon just around the corner from Rilda Canyon. Also an increased traffic load of men traveling to the Rilda facility to work. The road will be hard surfaced from the Huntington Canyon road to the facilities in Rilda Canyon. The road will have to be widened and a merge lane added back onto the canyon road. At the Huntington Plant, at the blend facility work will need to be done on the widening of that road to accommodate 90-100 trucks per day entering the facility, plus the pass through traffic which continues on up to Deer Creek.
Commissioner Hal Clyde was interested in the timeline for the projects Pollastro outlined. Clyde was told that the plants will continue to burn coal at the same rate and they will continue to purchase the coal for their needs and this coal will be trucked along SR-6 and SR-10. Any road improvements such as the Quitchupah road is not within their jurisdiction. Although they would like to see improvements to the access to the Hunter Plant for the truck traffic moved along as quickly as possible.
Emery County Commissioner Gary Kofford presented a slide show outlining and detailing proposed changes to the SR-10 interchange at Hunter Plant. Kofford described trucking as part of the Emery County economy and he was grateful for it and the contribution Utah Power makes to the communities in the county. Kofford talked about the proposed changes to the intersection to make traffic flow smoother and to help eliminate the dangers of the present intersection. Kofford invited UDOT to come aboard and work towards a conclusion with Utah Power and the county. The county and Utah Power have met to discuss the problems and work towards a solution. Johansen and Tuttle will be working on the engineering aspects of a new road design.
Mayor Glen Dale Johnson requested that UDOT consider letting Green River City have part of the rotomill from the I-70 project which will take place next summer. They have plans to place rotomill on the road to the new shooting range and other street projects. The commission determined they would look into the matter and draft a letter to Green River City indicating they could have the rotomill. Mayor Johnson also addressed drainage problems along Main Street where a motel is flooded everytime a rain storm comes. Wilson said they would have a review team come to Green River to look over the problems and concerns.
Mayor Carey Bloomer from Clawson requested the commission look at the speed limit through town and requested another exit off of SR-10 onto Clawson's Center Street.
Glenys Sitterud from the Emery Town Council requested a loop trail which will go out of Emery and will need to have access along the SR-10 corridor for approximately 8/10ths of a mile to the Muddy Creek Road. It was determined that Sitterud contact the Price Office and follow the procedure outlined by them.
Mayor Mike Williams of Emery addressed the commission on the old Emery Church and the restoration project they have undertaken with it. He said they are planning on submitting an application for grant money for enhancement funds for the project with UDOT by Dec. 10. Kathleen Truman spoke of the new interpretive panels which have been installed on I-70 view areas and rest stops and said they are a real addition to the county on educating visitors as to what is there on the Swell and in the communities of Emery County.