Federal government red tape has tied up a highway project east of Delta that would shorten the coal hauling distance to the Intermountain Power Project plant.

The Utah Department of Transportation is ready to begin construction of a 3.5 mile cutoff road that would connect U.S. 6 and U-125. While Millard County officials have acquired right-of-way clearance for most of the road, one small area near the Delta Airport may require a lease agreement change by Congress.Delta City leased the property from the Department of Interior for possible expansion at the airport. But the lease requires the land revert back to the federal government if not used for the airport.

In 1983, Millard County and Intermountain Power Agency officials reached an agreement to clear the way for building the road. IPA agreed to loan money to the county if the county would get the road built.

This, it was concluded, would shorten the trip by about six miles for trucks hauling coal from the Southern Utah Fuel Co. mine in Sevier County to the power plant. It would save money because coal contracts are based on per-mile transportation.

More government red tape is also involved. The Federal Aviation Administration must approve the project because of its close proximity to the Delta Municipal Airport.

Meanwhile, UDOT has completed engineering and approved the project. But it is in limbo until the red tape can be unraveled.