Concern about truck traffic and the impact it would have on the cities of North Branch and Taylors Falls has led Superior Silica Sand to withdraw its proposal to build a trans-loading station for frac sand in North Branch’s ESSBY business park.
North Branch City Administrator Bridgitte Konrad said the business sent the city a letter Friday informing city officials that it is no longer interested in the site.
Superior Silica Sand had received complaints from residents in the North Branch and Taylors Falls.
Residents in both those cities were concerned the municipalities are not adequately equipped to handle 200-250 trucks per day filled with sand passing through them.
For Taylors Falls, another fear was that the truck traffic would lead to less tourism in the area, which is a source of income for the city that borders the scenic St. Croix River.
In North Branch, a petition to stop Superior Silica Sand from coming to town garnered 1,400 signatures.
Reached via phone Monday, Superior Silica Sand President and CEO Rick Shearer said he enjoyed working with the North Branch city officials and the business tried to be accommodating to Taylors Falls by offering to change trucking hours to non-peak times, but the outcry from the communities was just too much for Superior Silica Sand to want to do business in the area.
“We did proactively reach out and work with North Branch — they felt very good about us coming in and being a part of the community — and we reached out to community leaders in Taylors Falls and looked at different hours to bring the trucks in to be as less disruptive as possible,” Shearer said. “In the end, there was still concern about the truck traffic. We decided we didn’t want to create this type of strife and tension within the communities of Taylors Falls and North Branch.”
He said the company regrets not being able to move forward with the project, but it wishes North Branch all the best.
Shearer added that there are currently no specific plans underway to construct the trans-loading facility in another area, but there are some sites the business is considering.
“We believe the whole process of trans-loading and hauling frac sand can be done responsibly, and we’re committed to doing it responsibly,” he said. “We’ll see what makes the most sense and announce something when we’re ready.”