Lehigh May Build 4.5-Mile Conveyor

Lehigh Cement Co. is pursing plans to erect a 4.5-mile conveyor system between its quarry in New Windsor, Md., and its Union Bridge, Md., cement plant, according to a report in the Baltimore Sun. The conveyor would run under roads, rails, streams and over acres of protected farmland. Lehigh says such a system is the best way to keep the plant running. But some local residents have criticized Lehigh's environmental record and are concerned about the prospect of construction on agriculturally preserved land.

The plant reportedly needs about 12,000 tpd of stone to stay in operation. It has rejected trucking in the stone, given the adverse effect of hundreds of vehicles on small-town roads. Another option is to build a rail spur from an existing track, but the company would prefer the conveyor. The project would cost tens of millions of dollars, require permits from federal, state and county agencies, and take numerous public hearings to complete. It would take about two years to build.