Residents question BNI road closures
By April Baumgarten
Residents south of Center and school officials are concerned a road closure near BNI Coal could disrupt daily life.
“For the number of people it is going to affect I don’t think it is justifiable, personally,” Center resident Mikael Schmidt said.
BNI Coal presented plans to close several roads near the Center Mine. It hopes to expand mining to the southeast, which would require it to temporarily close 35th Avenue Southwest, environmental services supervisor Jay Volk said.
“It’s nearly impossible to operate two mines with a road dissecting it in the middle,” BNI engineering manager Mike Heger said. “We end up losing a lot of coal. For people that own that coal, that’s a lot of loss revenue.”
The road would close in June if approved by the commission. The closure is part of a three-phase plan.
BNI has also asked the commission to permanently close a section east of 35th Avenue Southwest. Additional roads are expected to be closed 2016-23, though BNI could not confirm which roads.
“We have it in our permit that this road would be put back,” Volk said in reference to 35th Avenue Southwest. Other roads may be connected or rebuilt.
Construction on the mines is expected to begin in the summer.