The Sufco Mine, owned by Arch Coal, has been in service since 1941 and is one of the largest producing coal mines in the country. Up to seven million tons of coal per year are mined at Sufco with 800 trucks per day hauling it off site. It is a critical component of the regional economy, providing jobs, a strong tax base and mineral lease revenue to Sevier County.
The Quitchupah Creek Road project was initiated in 1994 by Sevier County and the Sufco Mine to reduce the cost of delivering coal to nearby Hunter and Huntington Power plants located in Central Utah. Due to funding issues and approvals from multiple agencies including the Bureau of Land Management, Environmental Protection Agency, US Forest Service, the Utah Division of Wildlife Resources, and the US Army Corps of Engineers, it took nearly 20 years to break ground. The total project cost was $32 million, which included building 11 miles of new roadway through rugged terrain at an elevation of 10,000 feet.
“There were a lot of agencies that we had to work with to get approvals for this project in order to get it off the ground and moving,” stated Kary Monroe, Project Manager with Jones & DeMille Engineering.
Nielson Construction, the general contractor, started working in April 2012 and completed the project in September 2013. They moved over 1.7 million cubic yards of soil and rock over two building seasons.
“This was every contractor’s dream to be involved in a project like this,” stated Wayne Nielson, Owner of Nielson. “To build a road in this magnitude in virgin country is just unheard of. We’ve worked with a lot of incredible people with experience and skills to put this project together.”
In addition to the new roadway, there were five wildlife crossing structures installed — three, 10 gage 20’-5” x 13’ MULTI-PLATE® structures (250’ in length), and two twin-leaf precast 36’ x 14’ BEBO® arch systems (160’ in length) — 23,000 square feet of Mechanically Stabilized Earth (MSE) retaining walls, 900 linear feet of twin, 14’ diameter structural steel MULTI-PLATE structures (under 100+ feet of fill) utilized for drainage in a major wash and over 12,000 linear feet of HEL-COR® corrugated steel pipe (CSP) for drainage. The polymer-coated HEL-COR CSP will provide an estimated service life of 100+ years. Flared end sections were also used which would allow for increased hydraulics while also preventing inlet/outlet erosion control thus increasing the overall performance.
Contech Engineered Solution’s involvement began with the engineer in the early design phase and finished as the primary supplier of the construction products as noted above. Overall, the construction of the roadway reduced the haul distance to the power plants by 46 miles round trip (approximately 3,000,000 trucking miles per year) resulting in significant, long-term time, cost-savings and environmental impact.
“This project will benefit the local areas and communities here by providing employment opportunities in the coal industry,” concluded Nielson. “This was a once in a lifetime project, and we were just very grateful to be a part of it.”