July 19, 2013
Salt Lake Tribune
By Lee Davidson
Ogden–Comments are pouring in about the proposed route of the West Davis Corridor, and highway officials on Friday promised the Utah Transportation Commission they will study all seriously —Â including a “no freeway” alternative pushed by some environmental and community groups.
The Utah Department of Transportation told the commission it has received about 680 formal comments since May when it unveiled its preferred route for that freeway, which would essentially become the northwest expansion of Legacy Parkway through Davis and Weber counties.
While federal rules require a 45-day public comment period, UDOT extended that to 90 days, which ends Aug. 23.
“We doubled that minimum required by law because we felt like there are significant public issues out there and we want to make sure everyone has an opportunity to voice their concern or agreement,” said Kris Peterson, director of UDOT Region One. Comments may be filed online at udot.utah.gov/westdavis.
The commission —Â which toured the proposed route this week —Â asked if UDOT is seriously studying comments, including an alternative plan from some groups calling for UDOT to discard plans for a freeway to instead improve transportation in the region through more reliance on mass transit, and the use of innovative interchange designs and express lanes to resolve east-west congestion.
Peterson said UDOT officials have met such groups “on multiple occasions to try to identify what that ‘shared solution’ is so that we can fully evaluate it and vet it out relative to all the rest of the options.”
He added those groups’ comments are “absolutely are being considered,” and promised that UDOT will look closely at all comments submitted “to make sure we didn’t make a mistake.” UDOT aims to have a final record of decision for the route in spring of 2014.
UDOT proposes to start the new freeway at Glover Lane in Farmington, where it would have an interchange with both Legacy Parkway and Interstate 15. That is a couple miles south of the existing northern end of Legacy, where it connects with I-15 and U.S. 89.
A different alternative would have started the freeway farther north at Shepard Lane and avoided routing the new freeway through western Farmington near the Great Salt Lake. But UDOT says the Shepard Lane alternative would have required removing more homes and was more complicated and expensive.
Residents in those two areas have been battling in public hearings and comments. Environmental groups also contend the freeway is not really needed, saying its use will be far below capacity in 2040, it could threaten wetlands and would contribute to urban sprawl by opening more areas to development.
The project’s draft environmental impact statement predicts the preferred route will:
• Cost $587 million (in 2012 dollars, including land acquisition)
• Be 19.7 miles long
• Force the relocation of 26 homes and five businesses
• Directly impact 52 acres of wetlands and 110 acres of prime farmland
UDOT says the new freeway would decrease by 59 percent the miles traveled in congestion by 2040.
Funding for the road has not yet been identified. Long-range plans envision construction of the first section from Glover Lane to Antelope Drive by 2020 and completion of the rest by 2030.
To comment, go to udot.utah.gov/westdavis.