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Buena Vista’s Board of Trustees has joined the increasingly heated discussion regarding the proposed revitalization of the Tennessee Pass rails.

The board plans to discuss the matter briefly at its Jan. 26 regular meeting, in particular joining Chaffee County in commenting on a proposed 85-mile, $1.5 billion rail line in northeastern Utah. The Uinta Basin Railway would connect oil shale reserves to the larger rail network, and many Chaffee County locals are standing up to that proposal and a possible connection to tankers running on the Tennessee Pass line en route to Gulf Coast refineries. The line has been dormant since 1997.

The Surface Transportation Board (STB) has a draft environmental impact statement on the Uinta Basin project that closes for comments Jan. 28. Chaffee County has joined forces with Eagle County and the Town of Avon to comment on the impact statement, which was issued prior to Colorado, Midland & Pacific Railway’s Dec. 31 filing with the STB to lease the 163-mile Tennessee Pass segment from Union Pacific. Chaffee County’s commissioners want to make sure local objection to the Tennessee Pass proposal is on record with the Uinta Basin plans.

Colorado, Midland & Pacific (CMP) is a subsidiary of Rio Grande Pacific Corp., which plans to operate the Uinta Basin Railway. CMP has stated it has no plans to run oil trains on Tennessee Pass, but opposition out of Chaffee County continues to raise the question.

Mayor Duff Lacy said Tuesday’s rail conversation will likely be brief, but probably not the last time the town discusses the issue. “I was here when the trains used to run,” he said.

Recognizing the trend toward significantly longer trains, he added, “this is a totally different concept to what was here in the 90’s.”

In other action, the Board is scheduled to:

  • Consider a request for a letter of support for South Main to acquire and relocate the historic Parkdale Bridge (currently in Fremont County) that could span from the South Main Square across the Arkansas River
  • Consider approving a resolution adopting architectural Town guidelines for Historic East Main Street, as well as an ordinance amending the municipal code regarding historic preservation
  • Receive the 2020 fourth quarter financial report from Treasurer Michelle Stoke
  • Receive an update on The Farm at Buena Vista subdivision

The Trustees’ meeting is slated for 7:00 p.m. Tuesday on Zoom: https://us02web.zoom.us/j/88075048459 Password 971317. Via phone: 1-301-715-8592. Meeting ID 880 7504 8459. The meeting will also be posted on YouTube.