Casting Blame for Legacy Fiasco

Posted by | 2001, Press Release | No Comments

Once again, UDOT is playing fast and loose with facts and figures. This time it’s to cover up their mistakes in charging ahead on Legacy Parkway construction while serious and substantial questions remain about the Legacy approvals.

While we all agree that any waste of the State’s resources should be a matter of serious concern, we disagree about where the responsibility lies for that waste. Let’s separate fact from fiction:

Claim: Legacy foes are wealthy, out-of state interlopers carrying out an anti-Utah national agenda.

Facts: Opponents of Legacy are local individuals and organizations dedicated to more effective and less environmentally damaging transportation solutions for Utah’s Wasatch Front. Many of these citizens reside in Davis County.

Claim: Opponents’ “real” agenda to stop all road construction because they are anti-growth; they don’t even care about the environment.

Facts: Our common mission is to work through the legislative and judicial process to end decades of transportation policies oriented around the automobile to the exclusion of mass transit. We want to bring balance to our State’s transportation system by developing a regional transit system and fostering transit oriented development. We are committed to stopping new roads which destroy critical wildlife habitat and promote sprawl development where reasonable alternatives exist. The issue is how we grow, not whether we grow. Envision Utah — which is widely supported by business, industry and the citizenry – proposes a different growth scenario which would increase transit usage by 30% and reduce congestion, sprawl and air pollution.

Claim: The Order from the Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals stopping construction of the Legacy Parkway until March will cause harm by idling hundreds of workers and costing $92,500 per day, totaling over $25 million dollars, because UDOT planned to construct through the winter.

Facts: UDOT managers submitted sworn affidavits in district court stating that UDOT planned to stop construction during the winter months or “until such work must be suspended due to weather conditions.” Moreover, we never opposed construction of the Burke overpass, a project which would occur independent of the Legacy Parkway.

Claim: Opponents delayed filing their lawsuit.

Facts: UDOT received its final project approval on January 9, 2001. We filed our complaint on January 17, 2001.

Claim: Opponents delayed filing their injunction to stop the project.

Facts: We agreed with UDOT to ask for expedited consideration of the case to get a final decision as quickly as possible rather than bring a motion for preliminary injunction which can delay the final decision. UDOT did not file the administrative record until May 14, 2001, causing a five month delay in briefing the case. We asked the court in our opening brief, filed on May 22, 2001, to stop construction.

Claim: Opponents delayed filing their appeal to the Tenth Circuit.

Facts: The district court issued a final, appealable judgment on October 9, 2001. We filed our appeals on October 12, 2001.

Claim: UDOT acted cautiously and prudently when ordering its contractor to start construction.

Facts: UDOT was cavalier in starting construction with complete disregard for litigation risks and the consequences to taxpayer dollars. First, UDOT awarded the contract on December 22, 2000, even though it did not receive its wetlands permit from the Army Corps of Engineers until January 9, 2001. Second, the contract UDOT made with the builders failed to include any provision which would protect it in the event of construction delays. This was despite the fact that UDOT knew as far back as May 2000 that lawsuits would be filed against the project. Third, Judge Jenkins’ decision on August 11, 2001, was highly critical of UDOT’s analysis, holding that the mass transit projections, estimated project costs and carbon monoxide analysis, were “just plain wrong” and that “other alternatives could have reasonably been considered.” Jenkin’s decision uphold the project approvals turned on his interpretation of the standard of review, prompting us to announce to UDOT and the press on August 14, 2001, that we would appeal the decision.

Claim: Governor Leavitt says that if the Circuit Court rules against UDOT in March, it would cost $200 million to repair the environmental damage. This cost would be for the removal of the fill so far completed.

Facts: UDOT assured the district court that if the Legacy Parkway ultimately is not built, restoration might not be difficult or expensive. The Governor has presented no facts to justify this $200 million claim.

Some Utah politicians want to hold our coalition responsible by passing legislation allowing UDOT to sue us for the costs for delays. UDOT is greatly exaggerating the potential costs of delay of the Legacy project in an attempt to villainize the local citizens and groups who only want to enforce the law and ensure the best long term outcome for our communities. It would behoove the politicians to take a more reasoned look at the facts. UDOT should settle the case and spend the winter performing the impacts and alternatives analysis that both the district court and the court of appeals found wanting.

Roger Borgenicht
Chair, Future Moves Coalition

Lynn de Freitas
President, FRIENDS of Great Salt Lake

Broad Coalition Announces “Transit 1st” Campaign Law Suit Filed to Challenge Legacy Parkway

Posted by | 2001, News Coverage | No Comments

Statement of Richard E. Kanner, M.D.
Statement of Terry Tempest Williams
Statement of Mayor Ross C. “Rocky” Anderson

For Immediate Release: January 17th 2001

Robert Adler (801) 581-3791
Craig Galli (801) 536-6667
Doug Owens (801) 536-6660

Salt Lake City—Utahns for Better Transportation and the Sierra Club, joined by Salt Lake City Mayor Rocky Anderson, announced plans today to file a lawsuit to halt construction of the Legacy Parkway, a 13 mile freeway on the edge of the Great Salt Lake in Davis County to be constructed parallel to I-15, an existing freeway. The Legacy Parkway is the first phase of the proposed 130-mile Legacy Parkway. The first lawsuit, filed today in the U.S. District Court in Salt Lake City, is just part of a broader campaign to promote a “Transit 1st” policy. “Smarter transportation policies and a more diverse mix of transportation solutions can better reduce traffic congestion while promoting more economic prosperity and better preserving our communities than the 1960s solution of building more roads,” explained Roger Borgenicht of Future Moves Coalition and one of the founders of Utahns for Better Transportation. Mr. Borgenicht also commended Mayor Rocky Anderson for joining Utahns for Better Transportation in the law suit: “The Mayor is one elected official who recognizes the rare opportunity we have in history to truly make a difference. Future generations will look back and applaud the Mayor for his vision and courage.”

UBT consists of an unusually diverse coalition of individuals and organizations. Individual members include Davis County commuters and residents, local urban and transportation planning professionals, developers, environmentalists, physicians, duck hunters and farmers. Institutional members of the coalition include FRIENDS of the Great Salt Lake, Future Moves Coalition, League of Women Voters of Salt Lake, HawkWatch International, Crossroads Urban Center, Coalition for Livable Streets, Great Salt Lake Audubon Society, Disabled Rights Action Committee, Wasatch Clean Air Coalition, and Utah Rivers Council.

The groups filed a law suit against the two federal agencies which approved the Legacy Parkway project, the Federal Highway Administration and Army Corps of Engineers, asserting that the approvals violated the National Environmental Policy Act and the Clean Water Act. Craig Galli, attorney for UBT, explained that the “Wasatch Front Regional Council and the Utah Department of Transportation grossly underestimated the potential contribution mass transit can make towards meeting future travel demand.” He added, “we hope this case will stimulate a broader, community-wide effort to plan and build a true regional transportation system that meets the needs of all Utahns in ways that better preserve our quality of life.”

A common mission of the coalition groups is to convince state planners to depart from decades of transportation policies oriented around the automobile and change to a more progressive approach of planning Transit 1st. Paradigm shifts by other cities, such as Portland have led them to abandon previous freeway development plans altogether. “Effective transportation policies do not have to cause more sprawl, air pollution, and loss of the region’s already-dwindling open space and natural habitat. We do not need to give up our quality of life to satisfy our transportation needs,” said Lynn DeFreitas, President of FRIENDS of Great Salt Lake, and member of Utahns for Better Transportation.

Dr. Richard E. Kanner, Professor of Medicine and the Director of the Pulmonary Function Lab at the University of Utah and former member and Chairman of the Utah Department of Environmental Quality’s Air Quality Board, also strongly opposes the Legacy Parkway project. His statement in opposition is attached. He has conducted extensive epidemiological research in Utah over the past 32 years studying the effects of air pollutants on the respiratory system.

Interestingly, many business and industry leaders share the concerns of Dr. Kanner and others regarding air quality. If the contribution of emissions from mobile sources continues to increase as a result of the Legacy Parkway and the 130-mile Legacy Parkway, air quality could deteriorate to the point of exceeding EPA air standards. Craig Galli explained that violating these standards could mean trouble for future economic growth along the Wasatch Front as EPA imposes more stringent air emissions controls on industry.

Other members of UBT such as the Disabled Rights Action Committee and Crossroads Urban Center are also very concerned that the state is only planning for the people that are able to drive, or can afford automobiles. “It is time that the Wasatch Front begin transportation development for all citizens,” said Glen Bailey of Crossroads Urban Center. “They should not discriminate against those who are unable to drive cars,” he added.

The proposed Legacy Parkway will destroy wetlands of international importance adjacent to the Great Salt Lake. This sensitive ecosystem provides resting and breeding habitat for nearly 9 million migratory birds, some traveling as far from Argentina to the Artic. Terry Tempest Williams, an internationally-renowned author and member of the UBT, submitted a statement on behalf of the “larger community” that will be impaired by the proposed highway. Her statement is attached in full.

The Sierra Club is also busy preparing a Clean Air Act lawsuit which will challenge the Wasatch

Front region’s massive highway construction plans, including the proposed Legacy Parkway. Nina Dougherty, Sierra Club Utah Chapter Chair stated that: “We can no longer afford to ignore the air quality impacts associated with UDOT’s policies to put more cars on more roads. This law suit will help focus the attention of our government leaders and the public on this important issue.” She expects the Sierra Club to file their suit very soon, as early as next week.

to top

Director of the Pulmonary Function Lab, University of Utah

“I am opposed to the Legacy Parkway because I believe it will add to the already significant problem of deterioration of our air quality and thus is a hazard to human health. In addition, poor air quality becomes both an economic and a political problem.

It is an economic problem as high ozone levels damage property such as plastics and rubber. Also, plant life is affected and thus agriculture, or what is left of it in our valley, will suffer.

It is a political problem because if we cannot assure the EPA that the State Implementation Plan (SIP) is adequate to control the problem the EPA will step in and the SIP for our area will be redesigned by someone in Denver or back East that is not as familiar with our situation as we are. We will lose control of our own destiny. The Legacy Parkway, by increasing pollution will make it harder for Utah to be in compliance with Federal Standards.

The Legacy Parkway was not designed as part of an overall plan for any of the counties along the Wasatch Front and thus, no consideration was given to its effects on air quality. By bringing more motor vehicles into the more heavily populated areas, such as Salt Lake City, there will be more tailpipes to spew pollutants. Also, the increased number of vehicles will make the already bad stop and go travel even worse and acceleration and deacceleration means that the efficiency of the vehicles will be further diminished with an increase in emissions from each tailpipe. It all adds up to poor air quality.

There is ample data from Utah, the rest of the United States and the rest of the world as well that shows a significant association between poor air quality and an increase in mortality and morbidity. Those with heart and lung disease are most vulnerable, especially those 65 years of age and older.

A further decrease in air quality from our overzealous worship of the automobile (and SUV) will have other economic effects as well. The State and/or the EPA will force our industries to make extensive and expensive modifications or even close them down. This will harm the economy and cost jobs.

Finally, land use planning in the West began in 1847 in the initial design of Salt Lake City. Brigham Young designed wide streets to handle the traffic that then existed. He also required a significant degree of open space. When miners sought to profit by removing a large iron ore deposit in City Creek Canyon and thus jeopardize the new city’s water supply they were stopped and the ore still remains in place. Whom among his heirs to leadership can claim to be his true successor?”

Richard E. Kanner, M.D.

to top


“The construction of the Legacy Parkway shows a lack of imagination. There are alternatives, mass transit being one of them. We can live differently. The welfare of millions of migrating birds is at stake. Who will speak for the birds? Who will speak for the avocets, black-necked stilts, white-faced ibises, long-billed curlews, and eared grebes? To jeopardize the rich wetlands of Great Salt Lake, a natural legacy that carries its own wealth and beauty for generations to come, is to jeopardize our own health and humanity in the name of personal convenience and short-sightedness. Do we have it within us to act with restraint on behalf of a larger community that extends beyond our own species? The eyes of the future are looking back at us and they are praying for us to see beyond our own time. They are kneeling with clasped hands that we might act with wisdom, that we might leave room for the life that is destined to continue.”

Terry Tempest Williams
January 11, 2001

to top

Ross C. “Rocky” Anderson
Salt Lake City Mayor
State of the City Address Excerpt
January 9, 2001

“In neighborhoods throughout the City, there has been a dramatic shift in the way we view transportation issues. Now, when we think of transportation, we no longer think just of automobiles. In fact, more and more, we think of getting away from our dependence upon automobiles and the onerous costs they impose upon our families, the pollution they create throughout our region, and the isolation and frustration they often create for individual drivers.

The phenomenal success of the North-South light rail line, the development of the University of Utah spur, and the passage by the voters of the transit tax increase represent the acceptance – or, perhaps more accurately stated, the enthusiastic embracing – of mass transit as a substantial component of our transportation infrastructure. Along with the commitment by the community to mass transit comes a commitment by our Administration to transit-oriented development. That commitment is shared by much of the business and development community, as well as by the University of Utah, which, under the vigorous and inspirational leadership of President Bernie Machen, has assisted in promoting, and solving many of the problems associated with, the new East-West light rail line.

As we move closer to the construction of a regional commuter rail system, linked to expanded light rail and bus systems, and as we experience more health-endangering air pollution, our Administration, even in the face of tremendous negative political odds, continues to oppose the construction of Legacy Parkway. That highway, which was conceived before a commuter rail system was being seriously discussed, is a continuation of outmoded sprawl development – the type of development that will funnel into the Salt Lake Valley thousands of more polluting vehicles each day. The legacy of Legacy Parkway will be more pollution, more respiratory disease, possibly more cancer, greater dependence upon the automobile, the consumption of more fossil fuels, more greenhouse gases, more road rage, the undermining of wise regional planning and mass transit, and a move away from smart-growth development.”

Battle Rages Over New Highway vs. Mass Transit

Posted by | 2001, News Coverage | No Comments

June 4, 2001

Denver Post

By Jeffrey Leib

Monday, June 04, 2001 – SALT LAKE CITY – This area, like metro Denver, has about 15 miles of light rail. And in both communities, mass transit promoters are actively pushing for the construction of more rail lines.

But unlike Denver, where rail advocates cooperated with highway promoters to win support for the southeast corridor road expansion and light-rail project, now called T-REX, mass transit supporters in Utah are at odds with Gov. Mike Leavitt and the Utah Department of Transportation.

Earlier this year, a coalition called Utahns for Better Transportation joined with Salt Lake City Mayor Rocky Anderson in filing suit to block the attempt by Leavitt and UDOT to follow the $1.3 billion reconstruction of Interstate 15 in this area with construction of a new $415 million, 14-mile Legacy Parkway north of Salt Lake City.

Opponents of the highway say its planned location puts it too close to valuable wetlands near the Great Salt Lake.

In their suit, Anderson and the coalition said the state’s plan for the highway violates provisions of the federal Clean Water Act and fails to consider other transportation alternatives, including mass transit for the corridor. State officials reject those claims.

Roger Borgenicht, a transportation activist in Salt Lake City, said with the reconstruction and expansion of I-15 nearly complete, it’s time to “reverse the order” of transportation priorities in the region.

“We say do Transit 1st for the next 10 years,” said Borgenicht, about the push by the coalition and others to kill the Legacy Parkway and instead promote the widespread building of light rail and commuter rail in the region.

That not only will change development patterns, “but also the behavior” of those who travel in the region, he adds.

Stephen Goldsmith, an Anderson aide who is planning director for Salt Lake City, said one of his toughest jobs is to convince residents of suburban communities throughout this valley that they are wanted in the state’s largest city.

“We want the people to come here,” he said in an interview in Salt Lake’s elegantly restored City Hall last week. “I say to them: ‘We want you to come and recreate here. We just don’t want your cars.'”

As a city planner, Goldsmith said an exaggerated focus on highway development means he has to spend too much time accommodating ever-increasing numbers of automobiles that enter the city, along with their parking needs and the traffic snarls they cause.

Michael Allegra, director of development for the Utah Transit Authority, said the Salt Lake area and what is called the Wasatch Front, a 125-mile-long urban and suburban swath resembling Colorado’s Front Range, is ripe for extensive light-rail and commuter-rail development.

Last November, residents of three counties in the Salt Lake area voted in favor of a one-quarter of 1 percent sales-tax increase to support expansion of public transportation in the region.

An early use of increased tax proceeds could be construction of a commuter-rail line between Salt Lake City and Ogden to the north.

Part of that corridor would house the Legacy Parkway as well under the state’s plan.

Tom Warne, UDOT’s outgoing executive director, said the Legacy project should be pursued along with commuter rail.

Both are part of a “shared solution” for transportation congestion in the Salt Lake corridor, he said.

Denver’s T-REX project is a similar “multimodal” solution to congestion in the south metro area, say officials of the Colorado Department of Transportation and the Regional Transportation District.

The agencies are partners in building T-REX, which includes 19 miles of light rail along I-25 and I-225, as well as 17 miles of highway expansion. Construction on the project is due to start in the fall.

All contents Copyright 2001 The Denver Post or other copyright holders. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed for any commercial purpose.