Nine Mile Canyon is approximately 40 miles long and is located in Carbon and Duchesne counties in eastern Utah. It is o-ft.en called “the world’s longest art gallery” as it contains more than 10,000 petroglyphs, or carved and painted images by Native Americans onto the canyon walls.
The canyon is home to numerous archeological sites, including pit houses, granaries and village locations, as well as many historic sites, such as stagecoach stations, settlers’ cabins, ranches and iron and wood telegraph poles. The canyon is accessible via an all-weather gravel road and many of these rock art treasures are adjacent to the roadway.
In 2004, Nine Mile Canyon was listed by the National Trust for Historic Preservation as one of the 11 most endangered historic sites in the United States. In 2009, there were 63 sites in Nine Mile Canyon listed in the U.S. National Historic Register of Historic Places. All of these are property of the Bureau of Land Management and include 19 rock art sites, 40 Fremont sites with archeological evidence and four sites from the late 1800s into early 1900s with homesteads and cabins. Overall, there are more than 1,000 rock art sites with at least 10,000 individual images.
There has been increased human activity in the canyon due to the discovery of rich deposits of natural gas deep beneath the Tavaputs Plateau. The related exploration and extraction has brought an influx of industrial truck traffic since 2002. Not only is the gravel roadway not designed for heavy truck traffic, it also does not have sufficient drainage facilities. In addition, large amounts of fugitive dust produced by the trucks’ passage have caused concern about potential impacts to the rock art.
Carbon County, Duchesne County and the Bill Barrett Corporation developed the Nine Mile Canyon road (County Road #740) improvement project to upgrade the section of the roadway between Soldier Creek Mine and the Great Hunt rock art panel, beginning approximately 13 miles northeast of Wellington. The project involved changing the wearing surface of the roadway to chip seal to suppress dust from the gas field’s truck traffic. Also, the addition of drainage culverts, ditches and additional crossings were necessary to help keep water off the road. Overall, the project includes upgrades to a total of 36 miles of the roadway with approximately 11 miles located on Federal lands and approximately 25 miles on private and state lands.
Carbon County and Jones and DeMille Engineering, Inc. specified corrosion-resistant culverts that allowed the contractors to determine the most cost-effective drainage solution for the culverts. Corrugated, Dual Wall High Density Polyethylene (HDPE) Pipe from Contech Construction Products Inc. was chosen in conjunction with polymeric coated Corrugated Metal Pipe (CMP) for the solution. The small diameter HDPE and polymeric coated CMP for larger diameter applications made for a fast install, reducing overall construction time and improving access to the valuable canyon.
Contractors WW Clyde & Co. and BT Gallegos Construction are currently installing a total of 11,680 -ft. of Corrugated HDPE pipe in 24-, 30- and 36- -in. diameters and a total of 4,300 -ft. of CMP in diameters ranging from 42 to 108 -in. es as well as a total of 340 -ft. of pipe arch culvert, ranging from 42 x 29 to 71 x 47 -in.es in size.
“Working with our project partners on the project in Nine Mile Canyon has been a great experience for us,” said Jared Gallegos, Vice President of BT Gallegos Construction. “We have worked with Contech for several years on many different projects and they have always had excellent pricing and the best customer service in the industry. We received timely delivery and assistance to keep our job running smoothly and the project exceeded our expectations.”
The project is funded by Carbon and Duchesne Counties, the Bill Barrett Corp and the State of Utah and is expected to be completed by December 2012.