Editorial: ‘Shared solution’ worthy of UDOT consideration

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  • October 17, 2014

October 14, 2014 | Salt Lake Tribune | Editorial Board  |

Any human institution is vulnerable to the Not Invented Here trap. That’s the very human prejudice that if an idea did not originate within your organization, it is, no matter how good or creative, not to be taken seriously.

Thus it may be very good news indeed that the brass at the Utah Department of Transportation has agreed, as it further reconsiders its highly questionable plan to add 20 miles to the Legacy Parkway through western Davis County, to add the so-called “shared solution” to its list of alternatives to be evaluated.

The shared solution was not invented by UDOT. That department, which often seems to think that its real name is the Utah Department of Highways, began this whole process by shopping its plan to extend Legacy through acres of sensitive wetlands, through people’s homes, or both.

Objections were quickly raised by a diverse set of voices. They included the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and environmental groups, out of concern for the protection of wetlands. And local officials and citizens, who were eager to prevent the destruction of existing residential neighborhoods to make room for a highway that would make it easier to drive to some yet-to-be-created residential neighborhoods.

The shared solution is a plan to give up the idea that we can never build enough highways and, instead, seek more intelligent methods of handling, steering, nudging and avoiding an increase in miles driven as the population of the counties along the Wasatch Front continues to soar.

Specifically, the alternative includes a push to upgrade existing east-west streets into more efficient boulevards which could handle more traffic with fewer frustrating, and emissions-boosting, snarls. But even that would have to be part of a broader-based package of improvements, perhaps including one more lane on I-15. That lane would handle south-going traffic in the morning and north-going commuters in the evening.

Improvements to mass transit throughout the area will also have to be part of the program.

In August, UDOT officials announced that they were putting their West Davis Highway plans on hold for more study. Last week, they said the shared solution was to be a formally considered alternative in that process.

If the shared solution, or alternatives very much like it, come out of the process, that will be to UDOT’s credit twice over. Once for making the right decision, and once for being open-minded enough to incorporate a suggestion from outside its comfort zone.

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