Play Live Radio
Next Up:
Available On Air Stations
Thank you for supporting UPR’s spring member drive! We are still working on the final stretch to reach our goal. Help us get there! GIVE NOW

Plans For The Uinta Basin Railroad Are Moving Forward

Ken Lund
Field in Vernal, largest city in Uintah County

Plans for the long-anticipated Uinta Basin railroad are moving forward, and some are banking on the new transportation line to strengthen Utah's economy.

The Uinta Basin Railroad is scheduled to be built by the winter of 2020. The Seven County Infrastructure Coalition leads the project and recently partnered with Drexel Hamilton, a financial group that will help with funding and planning. The railroad is foreseen to boost the economy and job market by improving the transportation of natural resources and agricultural products to and from the Uinta Basin, as well as opening up new industries to the area.

“Economically the area has been challenged because of lack of transportation and it’s probably one of the largest areas in the United States that is underserved by not having rail. We have long recognized the need to diversify the economy in the Uinta Basin and that’s one of the things that a railroad does,” said Mike Mckee, director of the Seven County Infrastructure Coalition.

Mckee said most products are currently transported across the basin by processions of trucks on narrow highways and train transportation is a better option.

Railroad patrons are working with agencies in the basin to ensure the route is feasible and minimizes environmental impacts.

Louis Haynes is the Ashley National Forest’s public affairs officer. 

“Once they determine the routes that they wish to propose for the rail lines, national forest staff will work with that proponent to analyze those routes in order to mitigate impacts that are present or select better routes that avoid sensitive areas--making sure that where it crosses the National Forest Service  lands is the right fit and the right place. Part of the mission of the National Forest is to preserve the forest service lands for current and future generations.”