The street signs say “No mat trucks.”
As a prelude to construction of the Dakota Access Pipeline project, builder Energy Transfer Partners has begun stockpiling what are called mats, used in the pipeline industry as well as others.
The stack is steadily growing larger at a leased site at the West Industrial Park. At first glance or from a distance, they may resemble railroad ties, until one realizes these are 16 to 18 feet long.
The mats are laminated hardwood planks that are bolted together, and then rolled out in the field as a driving surface to prevent heavy equipment from destroying the ground beneath.
Dakota Access is a new underground crude oil pipeline that will transport 450,000 barrels of crude oil daily from the Bakken/Three Forks formations in western North Dakota, through South Dakota and Iowa and to a terminus in Patoka, Ill.
Semi trucks bringing the mats to Huron — one of three operational bases being established in South Dakota — are being kept off residential streets. Instead, they are directed to the stockpile site via the west truck route.
It is keeping the trucks with their heavy loads off residential roads so they are not torn up.
When all of the mats are here, their number will be in the range of 12,000 to 15,000.
The company is required to build the temporary mat road as the pipeline is being constructed so environmentally the habitat is not damaged.
Energy Transfer Partners is also leasing space for a work yard in the West Industrial Park.
Trailers that have begun arriving are for work offices only, and not for lodging employees.
“We’re building a work place so they can office out of there,” Greater Huron Development Corporation Chief Executive Officer Jim Borszich said.
The development corporation has fielded calls from people concerned that a trailer park is being established.
“That is not the case,” he said. “None of those buildings will be lived in.”
Mats, from a company called Yak Mat, are also being stockpiled at Redfield, Aberdeen and Harrisburg.
Although the timeline is still unclear because of variables like the weather, pipeline construction is expected to begin soon.
“We’ve been told that they are looking around the first of May,” Borszich said.
The workforce will ramp up by mid June, when 500 to 600 will be working out of the Huron area.
GHDC has also had calls from people interested in renting their houses or having apartments available.
“There’s been a lot of activity on that,” he said. “People want to list and people are looking.”
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