Support Transit First | Save Wetlands | Stop the Legacy Parkway

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  • June 13, 2003

June 13, 2001 | The undersigned members of Utahns for Better Transportation (UBET) want to invite you to join us in defeating

Utans for Better Transportation
PO Box 2655
Salt Lake City, UT 84110-2655

Dear Friend,

The undersigned members of Utahns for Better Transportation (“UBET”) want to invite you to join us in defeating the proposed Legacy Parkway in favor of a Transit 1st policy. We need additional contributions in order to defeat this road, provide time for transit to succeed, and protect Utah’s real legacy, a clean and vital environment. We also want to provide you a status report regarding our litigation efforts thus far.

UBET retained Utah’s largest law firm, Parsons Behle & Latimer, which has been working on our behalf at greatly reduced rates. Professor Robert Adler of the University of Utah College of Law also has donated hundreds of hours to the case on a pro bono basis. UBET’s attorneys also have worked closely with the Sierra Club’s lawyers to efficiently use available legal resources.

On January 17, 2001, UBET and Mayor Rocky Anderson filed their complaint, asserting claims under the National Environmental Policy Act (“NEPA”) and the Clean Water Act. Shortly thereafter, the Sierra Club filed its complaint, adding counts under the Clean Air Act. Under threat of a motion for temporary restraining order, the state and federal defendants agreed to stay construction of the Legacy Parkway until August 1, 2001, giving the parties sufficient time to brief and argue the case to Judge Bruce Jenkins. This is a significant procedural victory.

On May 21, 2001, our litigation team filed three legal briefs (over 150 pages in length) challenging many critical flaws in the environmental impact statement (“EIS”) and Clean Water Act permit issued to allow the highway to be built. Our lawyers worked around the clock for weeks to evaluate and translate the “administrative record” of over 60,000 pages into a concise explanation of the key errors in law, science and logic made by the Utah Department of Transportation (“UDOT”) and the federal agencies that approved the project. The opening briefs, supported by the declarations of nine experts submitted on behalf of UBET, highlight the numerous deficiencies in the EIS, including the following:

– The EIS failed to adequately study and address the impacts on internationally significant wetlands and wildlife.

– The EIS failed to consider the impact of highways on growth patterns and future traffic.

– The EIS failed to study a realistic transit system for the region and other less damaging alternatives to the proposed highway.

– The EIS failed to study the impacts of a different sequencing of transportation improvements where transit development would come first.

With these and other arguments, we believe that we have made a very strong initial case against the Legacy Parkway. But the case is far from over. On July 18, our lawyers will still need to file a reply brief, and a hearing before federal District Court Judge Bruce Jenkins is scheduled for July 26, beginning at 9:30 am. A motion for preliminary injunction might be filed following oral argument.

As you can imagine, the opposition to the lawsuit mounted by UDOT, Federal Highway Administration and the Army Corps of Engineers (with strong support from the current administration) is fierce. In addition to lawyers from the state Attorney General’s Office and the U.S. Department of Justice, UDOT is paying for a major Washington, D.C. law firm to help defend our challenge to the Legacy Parkway. Your additional tax deductible contribution now will help to ensure that we have the resources to vigorously counter the state and federal government’s defense.

We have raised $126,000 since November 2000. We will need to raise another $100,000 to see the lawsuit through and to defend against appeals if filed. We are asking you to consider a contribution at this critical time.

The lawsuit is but one part of our efforts to promote more diverse transportation choices along the Wasatch Front. Building more roads will only stimulate more traffic and limit future transit options. The Legacy Parkway would be particularly pernicious because of the impact it would have on the precious wetlands and wildlife resources of the Great Salt Lake ecosystem.

We believe the tide is shifting — both nationally and locally — away from accepting more auto dependence to recognizing that walkable communities, bicycle networks, and regional transit systems can offer us more choices in how we travel. TRAX ridership has greatly exceeded initial estimates and last November, we voted to increase our own taxes for better transit, especially development of a regional passenger rail system and light rail extensions. Now is the time to advance our “Transit 1st” agenda and to protect the valuable habitat along the Great Salt Lake.

If you have friends who might be interested in donating to the Transit 1st/Stop Legacy legal fund, please write their names and addresses on the contribution form enclosed and we’ll send them a request.

Your generosity makes this effort possible. Your willingness to enlist friends will help win it.

More information can be gathered from our website: or by calling (801) 355-7085 or 355-4441.

Lynn de Freitas, Friends of Great Salt Lake
Roger Borgenicht, Future Moves
Ann O’Connell, League of Women Voters of Salt Lake
Ann Floor, Future Moves
Mary Gracia, Great Salt Lake Audubon Society
Nina Dougherty, Sierra Club
Barbara Toomer, Disabled Rights Action Coalition
Glenn Bailey, Crossroads Urban Center
Kathy Van Dame, Wasatch Clean Air Coalition
Howard Gross, Hawkwatch International
Rawlins Young, Coalition for Livable Streets
Zack Frankel, Utah Rivers Council

UTAHNS FOR BETTER TRANSPORTATION (UBET) Yes! Here is my tax deductible contribution. $_________ Because UBET is a coalition and not an incorporated entity checks should be made Payable to FRIENDS OF GREAT SALT LAKE. Mail to PO Box 2655, SLC, UT 84110-2655


Names and addresses of potential supporters of legal fund:
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