School board passes resolution opposing Glenwood quarry expansion, citing bus route safety concerns
School bus route safety alone is reason enough for the Roaring Fork School District to oppose the planned expansion of the Transfer Trail limestone quarry north of Glenwood Springs, district officials said in approving a resolution to that effect.
However, district staff informed the school board last week they are not versed enough on air quality impacts and effects on children to cite that as a reason to oppose the quarry expansion.
The school board, at its Jan. 22 meeting in Glenwood Springs, unanimously approved a resolution expressing its opposition to the proposed major expansion of the existing mine operation on Transfer Trail by RMR Industrials.
In doing so, the district joins other local governments in opposing the quarry plan at the request of the anti-quarry expansion group, Glenwood Springs Citizens Alliance.
Alliance members presented arguments to the school board earlier this month, keying on school bus safety from the major increase in trucks hauling rock from the quarry that would occur, along with air quality concerns.
District staff did recommend that the board give equal time to RMR to present its proposal and any traffic mitigation plans that are included in the formal application to the U.S. Bureau of Land Management.
“We had reached out to RMR twice prior to the board meeting, but did not hear back,” according to Kelsy Been, public information officer for the school district. “We did, however, consider information taken directly from RMR’s proposal.”
According to an analysis by district Transportation Director Jared Rains provided to the school board, “the traffic impact of this proposed mine expansion will be significant.”
The proposed 80-fold increase from the current level of quarry trucking would run alongside two special education buses, and would intersect with dozens of other routine bus routes along Traver Trail and U.S. Highway 6, Rains said.
The significant size difference between school buses and semi-trailer haul trucks along those routes is a major concern, he said.
“The fact that the major intersections of the truck and bus routes are all controlled by single stop signs (not 4-way stops), concerns me greatly,” Rains wrote in his analysis. “I do not allow my buses to make the unprotected left turns that these trucks will need to do, precisely because of the risk of entering the highway in such a manner.
“This raises serious safety concerns for the students traveling in school buses alongside the proposed increased truck traffic,” he wrote.
Regarding air quality and its relation to students’ health, Roaring Fork Schools Superintendent Rob Stein wrote, “Our staff (does) not feel qualified to conduct an analysis of air quality or health impacts until a more updated study is performed.
“If we learn more at a later date and feel strongly that the impacts will have a negative effect on student and staff health/safety, we would like to bring that back to the board for information and possible amendment to the resolution.”
RMR’s proposal calls for improvements to be made to Transfer Trail in the vicinity of the quarry, but does not address potential school bus impacts along the lower roadways.
Officials from RMR did not return a request Tuesday for comment regarding the district’s bus route safety concerns.
The RMR proposal is currently being reviewed by the BLM Colorado River Valley Field Office, including a preliminary environmental assessment of hydrologic well drilling activities before the full quarry expansion proposal is considered.
The plan calls for crushed rock to be hauled from the quarry, down Transfer and Traver Trail roads to Highway 6 and via Devereux Road to a railroad load-out facility.
The quarry currently operates under Garfield County and BLM permits at a production level of 100,000 tons of rock. The expansion plan by RMR calls for production to increase to 5 million tons of rock per year for 20 years, and an increase from about 20 truck trips per day to between 320 and 450 haul trips.
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