The Temple Mountain road under construction.
The Emery County Special Service District number one held a public hearing to receive input on the issuance of bonds for the construction of the Lila Canyon Road in Horse Canyon.
Kent Petersen, chairman for the district opened the public hearing, he explained the district is improving the county road from SR-6 to the Lila Canyon mine. The mineral lease and road revenue bonds total up to $4,315,000. Petersen said the bids came back better than anticipated for the road. The original engineers estimate was $8.5 million. It is now estimated the project will cost $5,407,000 which is $3 million less than the original estimate. This reduced amount will lower the loan repayment costs. The loan repayment will be covered by a partial grant and the UtahAmerican Energy company cash payments. The bond will be repaid within five years. "It's been a long time getting here and its been tough," said Petersen.
Jay Marshall is the chief engineer and project manager for the Lila Canyon mine. He reported last spring improvements were made to the road to allow access to the mine for surface construction. Currently the workers are in 980 feet and the coal is at 1,500 feet. It is estimated they will hit coal by the middle of June. The mine is employing 18 people working one shift. When they hit coal they will increase to two shifts. Full employment is expected by 2014-15 when the mine will employ 300 people. "They are hard at work. The public comment period for the environmental analysis on the power lines ends soon. The main substation equipment has been ordered," said Marshall.
Howard Tuttle from Johansen and Tuttle, the engineering firm involved with the project said turning lanes will be constructed and acceleration lanes onto SR-6. They will be similar to what is in use off SR-10 to the Hunter power plant.
Bevan Wilson reported the Utah Department of Transportation required this work on SR-6. UDOT has additional plans to improve SR-6 near Horse Canyon. There is also talk of a rest area being constructed there at the turnoff to Horse Canyon. UDOTs plan for SR-6 is to eventually have the entire road four lanes except where there are wetlands in some areas over the mountain. Most of the expense involved in the Lila Canyon road project will be the work on SR-6.
After the approval of the bond package there will be a 30 day comment period. March 25 will be the last day to comment. The documents will be signed on March 26 and the construction work will begin in April.
Commissioner Gary Kofford said the Lila Canyon mine will be a great benefit to the economy of Emery County. It will benefit the citizens of Emery, Carbon and Grand counties as it provides a boost in employment to the area.
Petersen recalled how long the project has been in the works. It was 1998 when Emery County originally signed the agreement with UtahAmerican Energy to participate with the road project. The Division of Oil, Gas and Mining issued the mining permit, but it was protested by SUWA and the new mine project was held up in court for 10 years. Petersen said this coal mine is the only new mine opening in Emery County. Lila Canyon has 20 years of coal afterwhich they can look at other lease options.
"We appreciate the support of the county as we have worked on this project," said Marshall. Legal council, County Attorney David Blackwell said the 30 day protest period is only a protest period for comments on the bond process.
Wilson said the district was able to secure a $1 million grant to cut down the amount of funding needed for the project and the CIB has been very helpful in the project.
The first payment is due in October of 2012. The first payment is for $863,000. UEI will make their first payment soon into an account set-up to handle the bond repayment.
The payments won't interfere with any other projects the district has going. The Lila Canyon project will not have any affect on tax payers in the county.
The public hearing was closed. The district voted to approve the issuance of up to $4,315,000 mineral lease and road revenue bonds and other related matters. The district voted to approve entering into a contract with the CIB for funding package for Lila Canyon road improvement project. The district ratified the engineering agreement between the district and Johansen and Tuttle for the engineering, materials testing, inspection and contract management for the Lila Canyon Road improvement project in the amount of $380,000. Wilson made a motion to go ahead and pay Johansen and Tuttle and instructed Tuttle to submit a bill for payment.
Tuttle gave an update on current road projects the district has on its schedule. The Moore 7 project is currently shut down due to weather but a little concrete work is taking place. The Moore 8 project for the chip seal coating on the entire section of the Moore Road will be started as soon as weather permits and UDOT approves the project. Morris Sorensen, road department head said there is a problem on the unfenced portions of the Moore Road with cows being hit.
Commissioner Kofford said when the project is complete they will see if any left over money can be used for fencing. The cows have been bedding down on the road. The BLM will need to be involved in the placement of the fence as well as those running cattle in the area.
The Temple Mountain road will receive a chip seal this summer. The Goblin Valley phase 4 is on hold until it gets through the legislative funding process. It's also waiting for the archaeological study to be completed. Wilson said as part of the park access funds the Green River Boulevard into Green River State Park will be funded and completed this summer. The Miller Creek phase II is on hold. The Reeder subdivision paving up Joe's Valley is just waiting for the permit from the forest service. Commissioner Kofford voiced his thoughts on the Miller Creek road being moved up on the priority list. Board members said one of the hangups on the Miller Creek road is right-of-ways. The board will begin work to secure these right-of-ways.
Work will begin on the airport project as soon as weather permits. The trailer and office building as well as one hangar will be moved to make way for a clear zone at the airport. Bids will be out in March or April. A new entrance to the airport will be constructed as the old entrance will be part of the clear zone. Trees will also be cleared. Later on the tarmac will need to be enlarged because part will be lost in this project. The road department will do some of the work at the airport. The new office will be located in the large hangar constructed last year. More funding for airport projects is expected in the future.