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Railroad operator Rio Grande Pacific Corp. has hired Mark Hemphill to lead the development and construction of the Uinta Basin Railway project in Utah, company officials announced yesterday.The $1.5 billion new-build railway will serve northeastern Utah's energy, mineral and agricultural industries when completed in late 2022 to early 2023, Rio Grande officials said in a press release.A public-private partnership involving Rio Grande Pacific, Drexel Hamilton Infrastructure Partners and the Seven County Infrastructure Coalition is developing the railway. Rio Grande will construct, operate and maintain the railway; Drexel Hamilton is financing it; and the coalition will obtain federal environmental clearances for the project.Hemphill led studies of the railway since 2014 as HDR Engineering Inc.'s director of railway consulting services. He has more than 38 years of railroad industry experience including the damaged Iraqi Republic Railways from 2005 to 2006."Mark's railway expertise, project management skills and his ability to navigate the nuances of public-private partnerships are a key asset to the Uinta Basin Railway project team and the project itself," said Brad Horrocks, co-chairman of the coalition.Said Hemphill: "The railway will provide jobs, economic opportunity, and tax revenue that supports schools and public services, in an area of Utah isolated from the national railway network. The public-private partnership ... is the right team at the right time to build this railway."