Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Tanker trucks on highways

Give state officials an A for being frank. They don’t know what to do about vastly increased tanker truck traffic that will barrel down U.S. 40 when the volume of crude oil heading from the Uintah Basin to Salt Lake Valley refineries doubles next year. We don’t know what to do, either. But like state transportation officials and legislators, we know a problem when we see one.

A study is under way to consider options. The trouble is that those options are unlikely to be available before the truck traffic swells.

If you live in Heber City, where U.S. 40 doubles as Main Street, that’s not good news. That could mean one or two of the heavy trucks passing every minute.

Daniels Canyon above Heber City is steep and can be treacherous during winter weather. The same is true of I-80 through Parleys Canyon before the roadway passes into Salt Lake City. U.S. 40 passes Strawberry Reservoir above Daniels Canyon, and I-80 abuts Mountain Dell Reservoir in Parleys. An oil spill into either of those waters could be an environmental mess.

I-80 is the transportation aorta for Salt Lake City from the east. Adding more heavy truck traffic to that already congested roadway will inevitably add to safety risks.

Those are the negatives. There also are positives. It’s good that Salt Lake City refineries will be processing more crude oil from Utah to produce gasoline and other petroleum products. Energy independence is important to the nation and to Utah’s economy. It’s better to have the oil come from Utah than from somewhere more distant. Salt Lake Tribune