Rail spur moves forward

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The Routt County Planning Commission recommended for approval Xcel Energy's application for a rail spur near Hayden. The proposal will go before the Routt County Board of Commissioners at 6 p.m. Sept. 24.

If you go

What: Xcel Energy's hearing with the Routt County Board of Commissioners regarding a special use permit for a coal supply rail spur to Hayden Station.

When: 6 p.m. Sept. 24

Where: Commissioners hearing room, Routt County Courthouse Annex, 136 Sixth St.

On the 'Net

View Xcel Energy's rail application at www.edaw.net/hayden. Enter "guest" for the username and password.

— It was anything but an enthusiastic endorsement, but the Routt County Planning Commission recommended for approval Xcel Energy's application for a rail spur near Hayden.

The rail line proposal, which would extend from the Union Pacific mainline to the Hayden Station power plant, will go before the Routt County Board of Commissioners at 6 p.m. Sept. 24.

It was standing room only in the commissioners hearing room Thursday night as the Planning Commission considered Xcel's application. The rail spur has been in the works since 2003, and comments from Xcel officials and planning commissioners suggested it has been a tiresome ordeal.

"This has been a rather protracted process," said Mary Brown, an Xcel lobbyist.

Brown said the rail line option the company was presenting - one that would extend from the east end of the Nature Conservancy-owned Carpenter Ranch southeast to the coal-fired Hayden Station, with an overpass across U.S. Highway 40 and an at-grade crossing of Routt County Road 27 - was the only one it had left after the exhaustive four-year process.

The spur would follow an existing 75-foot right-of-way through the far east end of the Carpenter Ranch. Brown said Xcel was forced to use its existing right-of-way because all other options would require crossing private property with unwilling landowners.

During public and commissioners comments, many concerns were raised, ranging from safety concerns involving wildlife to the opinion that the rail spur is just plain ugly.

In the end, the planning commissioners voted 6-1 to move the application forward with a recommendation for approval, although many commissioners said they voted that way grudgingly. Planning Commissioner Fred Nichols was the lone "no" vote. He said he could not support the project without a separated-grade crossing of C.R. 27.

Concerns about the overpass' aesthetics were somewhat mitigated by a county staff recommended condition included over Xcel's objections. The condition states, "The spur shall be redesigned to include a trestle bridge that appears rural and historic in style and that spans beyond the U.S. 40 right-of-way far enough to accommodate the passage of wildlife and surface water."

Hayden Town Manager Russ Martin attended the meeting, but said the town has taken no formal position on the rail spur. Martin said the Hayden Town Board would consider taking a stance prior to the application's presentation to the Routt County Board of Commissioners.

Comments

1234 7 years, 3 months ago

that new look that x-cell has to put in pleased everyone?

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madmoores 7 years, 3 months ago

Went to the website listed in the left hand column, didn't tell me squat. My question still stands: What about the rail line that lies about half a mile east of the city limits of Hayden? Where does it go? Can it be used? Why and why not? If noone can answer me, where can I go to find out? It seems illogical to build an new ugly bridge over Hwy 40, making it more dangerous than it already is, than it would be to use an existing line and possibly "spurring" off of it instead. Is there no other place, other than cutting into the nature area, that this rail can go? This IS the solution to the trucking problem and I am all for rail delivery when possible, but this all seems rather ill thought.

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1234 7 years, 3 months ago

yes, madmoores,there are a few reasons that xcell can not use the rail just east of hayden, one is they donot own it and could cause problems in the future,another reason is that where this rail stops,it would tear up alot of groun d to get to the power plant,and also may go thru private property.

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jack legrice 7 years, 3 months ago

I believe that line was when unit 2 was being built. It was used to bring in the steamdrum if I remember correctly. So who does own it?

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madmoores 7 years, 3 months ago

Well, did my own looking, google earth is an excellent program, and found where that spur goes. It seems to parallel C.R. 37 for a couple miles rounding out at an apparent defunct loadout just east of the Hayden speedway and south of the runway at the Airport. Now, aside from the land barons who refuse to budge there is no reason that this spur could not be bought by ExCell, reactivated and built along C.R. 37 until it met back up with 20 mile road. Surely by then it would be on or close to ExCell's property. There IS an alternative to this other than cutting through a nature conservancy and making an ugly, dangerous overpass on Hwy. 40. Between now and the time 20 mile runs out of coal is PLENTY of time to do some extra research that would spare the Carpenter ranch from this ugliness, get the trucks off the road and supply the power plant with coal the right way, by rail.

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1234 7 years, 3 months ago

madmoores,you should have went to some of the meetings they offered , to explian why they did what they did! and also this was not just xcels idea. as far as it being ugly??? xcell has agreed to make it look as good as it can,and how is it dangerous? there are rails all over this nation.what makes this one any different? the easier you make it for xcel the easier you elec. bill will be. this research has went on for close to two years,and this is all you know of it? you and the people need to make up your minds ,if you want trucks or rail. because it is going to happen either way.

oneski, iam not for sure but i think seneca mine owns it , and that would be why they let the power plant use it at that time,because the power plant was buying all the coal from them.

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Vince arroyo 7 years, 3 months ago

It is time to get this project on with. When this all started the cost of the proposed railway was at 23million, Now is its at an estimated 45million. Now the carpenter ranch. Historical not. Mr carpenter did do a lot for this valley(he also did a lot for his pocket book$$$$$$).The original owners where were the Fiske's, the 2nd owner ? . Then the carpenters. Nature conservatory can we all use it hunt, bike ,ride horse's etc, enjoy it to it's fullest?? You're right 1234 Peabody does own the track east of Hayden.

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1234 7 years, 3 months ago

boy oh boy !!! did you just say alot or what, hometown!!! IT IS TIME to get on with it. yeah BABY lets do it

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