GENERAL QUESTIONS ABOUT TMC AND THE HITCH RACK PROJECT
What is the project?
Transit Mix Concrete Company, a local company founded in Colorado Springs, plans to open a new rock aggregate quarry on a discreet, undeveloped site south of Colorado Springs. The company is filing permit applications with State of Colorado and El Paso County regulatory agencies as required in order to develop a new quarry.
Where is the new quarry located?
The new quarry will be located south of the city on undeveloped private land west of Colo. Highway 115. The property is west of Fort Carson and about a mile south-southeast of Blue Mountain.
Objectors contend that the El Paso County land management plan does not include a quarry in this location, and therefore a quarry would violate Code.
First, it is important to note that in 1909, the State of Colorado acknowledged the presence of valuable mineable material when it reserved mineral rights for the area with a patent. The County plan acknowledges that “high quality mineral and other resources exist in the area and may be in demand for regional development.” Further, the plan states it “should be used … as a guide in the review, administration and implementation of land use decisions relating to the Planning area. In particular, it is the intention of this Plan to respect the judgment of individual land owners by allowing a wide degree of freedom and flexibility in land use decisions while still preserving the character of the area.”
Transit Mix has done extensive study to assure that the proposed quarry has minimal impact the character of the area.
Why was this location selected for a new quarry?
The proposed location was chosen both for its high-quality granite and because it has surrounding ridges that will protect viewscapes for neighbors and passing motorists.
Why is a continuous supply of aggregate needed?
Colorado Springs and El Paso County are growing. Economic development projections show continued increases in population, jobs and essential infrastructure. The metro area’s per capita annual aggregate consumption averages about eight tons, and that number is expected to grow as the Colorado Springs metro area grows. Transit Mix Concrete has been supplying the concrete and building materials required by our growing city and its suburbs since 1945 and plans to continue supplying those materials for many years to come.
What will the quarry produce?
The quarry will produce granite, an inert rock that once crushed and sized requires no additional processing for its intended use in concrete, asphalt and a variety of construction products.
Where will the rock go?
We estimate that 85% of the rock quarried will go into the local market here in El Paso County, with about 15% going to Pueblo County.
Will the quarry be safe?
Transit Mix Concrete has an established record as a safe quarry operator that continuously trains quarry workers to assure safe operations. Quarry operations are overseen by the federal Mine Safety and Health Administration (MSHA) which conducts regular inspections to assure their safe operation. The quarry will meet or exceed all modern quarry standards and federal, state and local regulations for its safe and environmentally sustainable operation.
Are you buying or leasing the property?
Transit Mix has a firm option to purchase the ranch, but at this time the company plans to execute a long-term lease on the land from the property owner.
Why is another quarry needed in this area? There are already two others.
Several reasons. Those quarries also are being depleted, so buying from them would provide only a short-term fix, and not a long-term solution to supply. Being forced to buy aggregate from our competitors would put Transit Mix at a competitive disadvantage. Finally, if competition is reduced in the marketplace, pricing will increase above current market levels for all customers.
Our research into economic trends, population growth, and the projected supply and demand for aggregate products over the next 50 years supports the development of another quarry. (chart) Without a new quarry, our research estimates that demand will outstrip supply as soon as 2020. Transit Mix’s current source of aggregate, the Pikeview Quarry, will reach the end of its useful life by that time and will be closed and reclaimed.
Can’t you buy your rock from the other quarries?
Those other quarries, which belong to competitors, would have to increase their production significantly to meet our need, which also would increase truck traffic from the south. Purchasing from one of the existing quarries, in addition to the competitive disadvantage, would create the same traffic over longer distances. We believe we will have much less impact by adding the additional quarry and reducing the truck miles traveled.
Why can’t you bring rock up from the Canón City quarry?
We currently have a permit in Canón City, however, according to our calculations the cost of aggregate will increase by one percent (1%) for each additional mile we have to transport it from the source. We would have to haul rock an additional 33 miles (one way) from Canón City, which is simply not economically feasible. Transporting from this distance also would add more truck traffic to Hwy. 115 south of Hitch Rack Ranch.
Who owns the mineral rights on the property?
Mineral rights have been held by the State of Colorado since 1909. As part of a mineral lease agreement being negotiated, the company would pay about $200,000 – $750,000 annually in royalties (depending on the amount of rock extracted), with proceeds by statute benefiting K-12 education in Colorado, including El Paso County public schools.
Won’t a quarry increase the risk of wildfire?
Based on Transit Mix’s lengthy experience and that of other quarries across the state, there is negligible risk of the operation causing a wildfire, since there will be no vegetation in the immediate blast area. In fact, quarries have proven to be good fire breaks. In the Waldo Canyon fire, the only areas where the flames were stopped were at the Pikeview, Queen’s Canyon and Black Canyon quarries.
As an added measure to protect the land, our plan includes sending our operators to fire mitigation training to learn to build fire breaks with bulldozers and other equipment so that we can help in the event of a fire in the area.
When will development of the quarry begin?
Transit Mix Concrete estimates that permit approvals can be issued and development started in early- to mid- 2017. Aggregate production could begin in late-2017. Before production can begin, the company must build the necessary infrastructure, including power lines, a private access road, and installing aggregate processing equipment.
What will the new quarry look like?
Once the infrastructure is built, quarry operations will follow the company’s mine development plan and look similar to other rock aggregate quarries. The quarry and access roads will be located on terrain behind surrounding ridges in order to protect viewscapes for neighbors and passing motorists.
Does Transit Mix have an environmental impact statement (EIS) for this project?
No, an EIS is required only for federal permits. We are applying for state and county permits, which do contain environmental studies for important resources such as wildlife, vegetation and water.
How can I provide my feedback about the project?
Both the Colorado DRMS and the El Paso County Board of Commissioners will conduct outreach to various regulatory agencies, neighbors and the general public as part of the review process. Public meetings will be scheduled that afford people the opportunity to provide their input prior to permit approvals being issued.