Planning will again mull Hayden Gulch
The Routt County Planning Commission on Thursday again will consider a request from Peabody Energy for a special-use permit to unload coal at its Hayden Gulch facility.
The commission tabled the company’s request Jan. 20 because it wanted more information from the Colorado Public Utilities Commission and the Colorado Department of Transportation regarding a rail crossing of U.S. Highway 40 that leads to the facility two miles southeast of Hayden.
The permit would allow Peabody to temporarily deliver coal to Xcel Energy’s Hayden Power Station, which will lose its primary source of coal when the nearby Seneca coal mine closes this year.
The Hayden Gulch proposal is intended to provide short-term coal supplies from the Twentymile Coal Co. near Oak Creek to Hayden Station. Xcel Energy is looking for a long-term delivery solution now that Peabody plans to close the Seneca Mine.
Trains would access Hayden Gulch, which last was used as a coal loading facility in 1995, from an existing spur off the Union Pacific mainline east of Hayden. The spur crosses U.S. 40 before heading south about 1.3 miles, where it crosses Routt County Road 37 near the gulch.
Trucks would haul coal to the Hayden Station on an existing haul road.
The Planning Commission on Jan. 20 was concerned about whether the PUC or CDOT would require a rail overpass or separated-grade crossing of U.S. 40.
The commission also wanted to see a landscaping plan to minimize noise and visual effects of trains on The Haven Assisted Living Center, located off C.R. 37 near the spur.
Peabody plans to present a conceptual landscape plan for The Haven and information from the PUC and CDOT on Thursday.
Although Hayden town officials understand the Hayden Station’s coal needs, they are concerned that the Hayden Gulch might end up as a long-term coal handling facility for incoming supplies, as well as coal from any future coal mining operations in the area, Town Manager Russ Martin said.
Martin and Mayor Chuck Grobe plan to attend the Planning Commission meeting Thursday.
At some point, Martin said the town wants Peabody to consider moving the facility to the south and east to eliminate traffic conflicts with C.R. 37, as well as noise and other effects the facility may have on neighboring landowners as well as future residents in that area.
“We think there’s a better alternative,” Martin said. “It may cost more or less money, but we think there’s an opportunity there to pursue.”
Ron Nereson’s farm is near Hayden Gulch. He told the commission in January that when the facility was last in use, coal dust dried out his crops and the train noise was difficult to endure.
The facility is near anticipated growth areas, and future residents will face the same effects as the Neresons, Martin said.
“We’re heading in that direction, and we want to make sure we take care of issues for citizens that are not there yet,” he said.
Peabody consultant John Weinman told the commission in January that the company plans to use various dust-control measures to mitigate negative effects on nearby residents.
The company also is willing to upgrade railroad-warning signals at U.S. 40 and C.R. 37 and limit the number of rail cars so traffic on C.R. 37 isn’t blocked while trains unload coal.
The Routt County Planning Commission will meet at 6 p.m. Thursday in the hearing room in the Routt County Courthouse Annex, 136 Sixth St. in Steamboat Springs.
The Hayden Gulch application is the first item on the commission’s agenda.
— To reach Tamera Manzanares, call 871-4204 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.
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