Southern Utah News Articles
Southern Red Sands road issues
If and when trucks will be hauling sand on U.S. Highway 89 depends on mining company modifications to the road from the proposed mine site at Red Knoll to where it connects to the highway.
Currently the Red Knoll Road from the highway to the proposed mining site, about 10 miles north of Kanab, cuts across land belonging to the state’s School and Institutional Trust Lands Administration (SITLA), Bureau of Land Management (BLM) and Kane County, while U.S. 89 is managed by the Utah Department of Transportation (UDOT).
Under its proposal, the mining company plans on trucking, in closed trailers, washed and sorted sand grains to be used in oil fracking operations in the Uintah Basin in northeastern Utah. Such a route would have minimal impact on traffic in Kanab. But marketing opportunities are also being explored to supply similar operations in New Mexico. Should those opportunities prove viable, it would mean sending trucks on U.S. 89 south through the center of Kanab.
Such a potential increase in truck traffic on U.S. 89 is just one of myriad concerns expressed by city and county residents about the mine proposed by Southern Red Sands, LLC, and funded by a group of Salt Lake City investors.
Other concerns expressed by residents include impact to area water required by the mine, destruction of natural scenery and damage to wildlife habitat.
The exact number of trucks varies, but residents are worried any trucks would be an additional burden on the already popular roadway.
UDOT spokesman Kevin Kitchen said while Southern Red Sands has contacted the agency about using U.S. Highway 89, no formal applications in the permitting process have been filed as of last week.
He said that typically the process begins when a company or agency contacts UDOT with a concept layout showing the type and scope of the project. That information will be used to determine what types of permits are required.
Kitchen said UDOT would need to know, among other things, if turn lanes on U.S. 89 and acceleration and deceleration lanes would be required; do they have insurance and able to bond for the project, and what is the traffic control plan if construction is involved?
The company will also have to go through a list of environmental requirements. In addition to complying with a historical survey, paleontological, archaeological and cultural aspects associated with the project, need to be considered.
Such surveys are mandated by the Federal Highway Administration, which has granted UDOT the power to grant such approvals on its behalf.
Similar requests for highway modifications have recently have been granted in Carbon and Sevier counties and on U.S. 89 in northern Kane County for Alton Coal.
Kitchen said that the trucking company would have to adhere to rules that fall under the auspices of the Utah Highway Patrol. The company is not required to pay the state any permit fees for using the highway.
“As popular as the highway is with tourists, it is constructed as a freight corridor and we don’t see how any type of trucking operation would change the nature of the roadway,” Kitchen said.
As for potential truck traffic rolling through the middle of Kanab, there are no special requirements imposed by UDOT beyond possible rumble strips to control speed or the city possibly imposing air brake restrictions.
The BLM says the agency has received Kane County’s application for a right of way to widen and resurface less than a mile of the Red Knoll Road.
In an e-mail, BLM spokesman David Hercher said the county is funding the agency’s required environmental assessment of the project on its land and expects to release a draft document for public review and comment later this year.
Calls made to Southern Red Sands for comment went unanswered.