A group of concerned citizens from the Greater Patagonia/Sonoita/Elgin region have sent the following letter to Arizona Department of Transportation managers raising “serious issues” surrounding the permitting process for South32’s plans for State Route 82 and the Cross Creek Entrance to the mine at Hermosa. Here is the letter in full, with PDF attachments.
April 10, 2023
Dear ADOT Managers,
On June 1st, 2022, a group of us sent you a detailed 13-page letter (see attachment Letter to ADOT June 1, 2022) specifying many concerns of Patagonia/Sonoita/Elgin regional citizens and business interests and the reasons we believe both a Road Safety Assessment and an extensive Traffic Impact Analysis including a Traffic Impact Study are required.
We received a response from Roderick Lane dated June 16, 2022 (see attachment Response Letter from ADOT re June 1, 2022 letter). In this letter ADOT stated its standard operating procedure, once it receives an application:
“our standard operating procedure is to determine what requirements need to be met by the permittee once we have had an opportunity to review all the details.
During our review process, we will address whether a Traffic Impact Analysis, a Traffic Impact Study, or a Road Safety Assessment are necessary. Then we respond back to the permittee letting them know of the necessary requirements.”
You did not outline actions that would inform us, our newspapers of general circulation and our communities as to when you had received an application, nor any process for citizen involvement, in what is a transformational project with significant impacts, the South32 Hermosa Mine.
Given the lack of information from ADOT, we have had to submit periodic Public Records Requests (PRR). The last PRR was sent on March 19th and ADOT’s response was received on April 5th. In it we learned ADOT has now received an Encroachment Permit Application dated March 3, 2023 (see attachment South32_Application). When we read the Description of Proposed Work or Activity To Occur In Right-of-Way, we were sorely disappointed. It states, “State Route 82 and Cross Creek Entrance for Equipment Access. Temporary with Controlled Gate Access”. This description is contrary to extensive, publicly available information previously provided by many citizens outlined in the Letter to ADOT June 1, 2022.
In the January 26th, 2023, email to James Gomes, Regional Traffic ADOT Southcentral District, from Daniel Iwicki, Kimley-Horn, with Cc to Kim Carroll Kimley-Horn; Chuck Horvath, CPE Consultants and Joseph Macaulay CPE Consultants (see attachment SR_ 82_ Cross _ Creek _Intersection), the intent of this road was correctly stated:
“The project is related to the South32 mine near Patagonia and the proposed improvements at the intersection of SR 82 and Cross Creek Road (see attached PDF), which will be used as the main access point to the mine.”
The Cross Creek Road (aka Cross Creek Connector or CCC) will be a significant transportation linkage for the South32 Mine at Hermosa. There are no road alternatives at this time and the CCC road will most likely not be temporary.
We therefore formally request that ADOT revisit the attached Letter to ADOT June 1, 2022. In this letter the project was detailed through information that was publicly available at the time. In addition, South32 has been convening an advisory committee made up of Santa Cruz County citizens and business interests for two years, but given the lack of information shared in the advisory committee meetings regarding traffic issues, we even more strongly believe that a full Traffic Impact Analysis is a necessity for the “health, safety and welfare”, of the greater Patagonia/Sonoita/Elgin region and the roads required to get South32’s product to the Port of Tucson. Additionally, there will be significant traffic impacts for the ongoing constructing and servicing of this mine which has been a multi-billion-dollar investment, which has heightened our concern.
The Letter to ADOT June 1, 2022, also makes it clear that the information provided by South32 and its contractors and/or subs with its recent encroachment application to ADOT is not in any way sufficient for ADOT to determine whether a Traffic Impact Analysis, a Traffic Impact Study, or a Road Safety Assessment are necessary or what the scope of such Analysis, Study and Assessment will be. We base this observation on the March 19th PRR request and the information we received on April 5, 2023.
In addition to formally requesting that ADOT revisit the detailed attached Letter to ADOT June 1, 2022, we ask that you:
1) inform us of what additional information you will require of the applicant before determining whether such an Analysis, Study and Assessment will be required.
2) provide us with a preliminary determination concerning the requirement for a Traffic Impact Analysis, a Traffic Impact Study, and Road Safety Assessment and the scope of Analysis, Study, and Road Safety Assessments.
3) grant us the opportunity to comment on the information you will require and a preliminary determination.
4) offer an opportunity to comment on the Traffic Impact Analysis and Traffic Impact Study,which we are confident you will require, once they are received.
We also ask that you provide this requested information to us without the need for ongoing Public Records Requests. While these steps may not be part of your normal Encroachment Permitting Process, given the high level of community safety concerns, we believe that they are warranted. Please inform us whether you will honor each of these requests.
We thank you in advance for your commitment to transparency and your commitment to road safety.
and other concerned citizens of the Greater Patagonia/Sonoita/Elgin region