Williams tunnel would cut drive time | PostIndependent.com

Williams tunnel would cut drive time

Donna GrayPost Independent Staff

Natural gas producer Williams has a major road and tunnel project in the works that says will save workers a 70-mile trip from their office in Parachute to wells just above town as the crow flies.The road takes off from the bottom of Wheeler Gulch about three miles north of Parachute. The road, which is on private leased land, follows the steep slope of the Bookcliffs to just below Allen Point. It gains about 2,600 feet in elevation before it will enter a 3,200-foot tunnel, said Mike Gardner, senior environmental specialist with Williams. Road grades vary between seven and 12 percent, Gardner said.Williams has several wells in the Allen Point area that have been producing since the 1980s and plans call for more drilling there this year.To get to the Allen Point wells, workers now must travel to Rifle, then take Highway 13 north to the Piceance Basin Road near Rio Blanco, and then follow the Cow Creek Road for about 25 miles to Allen Point, Gardner said. With the new road and tunnel a 70-mile, two-hour ride will be whittled down to five miles and about 20 minutes.”It just makes sense,” Gardner said.Besides saving time and miles, the road will improve public safety “getting all the heavy equipment off state and county roads,” he said.Gardener said the road will be constructed in segments linking well pads along the way. Most of the road has been bladed but the tunnel is not yet under construction. It’s expected to be completed in early 2007, Gardner said.The tunnel “will be more environmentally friendly” than building a road all the way to the top, because “it will minimize surface disturbance,” he said. “It will also result in net savings in fuel use,” Gardner said.Once on top, the road will tie into existing roads.Although Williams has not yet determined what kind of surface to use on the road, it will be open all year long, in any weather. Contact Donna Gray: 945-8515, ext. 510dgray@postindependent.com


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