Statement of Douglas Owens

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  • June 16, 2001

Attorney, Parsons, Behle & Latimer

Today, Utahns for Better Transportation, the Mayor of Salt Lake, and other plaintiffs are filing a lawsuit to try to slow down the rush to build the Legacy Parkway.

The Utah Department of Transportation is in a headlong rush to build a highway that will change our community for ever.

It will cause more traffic, more congestion, more sprawl, more air pollution, more cost overruns, more time in the car, more frustration and more stress.

It will destroy things we value. The highway will give us less sense of community, less mobility in the long run, less choice in how we get around, less humanity in our neighborhoods, less open space, less wildlife, less of what God gave us here on the Wasatch front.

A train is better than a freeway. It makes sense to build a train first, not the highway first. Trains give people choice in how they get around, reduce congestion on the roads, and reduce sprawling developments that are dependent on the automobile. Trains make better neighborhoods than freeways. TRAX in downtown Salt Lake proves it.

Trains reduce congestion in the long run. Highways always clog up. Los Angeles proves it. Without a robust transit system, we will morph into another Los Angeles or Phoenix.

The highway will effectively destroy our chance to build a train north from Salt Lake. It will cause so much development that a right of way for the train could never be acquired.

We have a simple message for Utah’s road builders. Hold on, wait just a little while, and let’s think this through carefully. Let’s study the train option instead of dismissing it out of hand. Lets take a hard look at what will be sacrificed on the road building alter.

A hundred years ago, Utah’s pioneers built one of the best transit systems in the world. People came from all over the world to see Salt Lake’s trolley system. Our pioneer legacy is to carefully plan our communities and transportation systems. We have renewed that legacy with the construction of TRAX. TRAX works here. It can work in Davis County.

When you hear the name “Legacy Parkway,” you should ask, “What legacy?” What legacy do we want to pass on to the next generation? Sensible planning is our pioneer legacy. Sensible transit is our legacy. Our legacy is not willy-nilly road building and destruction of our land and clean air and wildlife. Utah’s highway builders want to give us the legacy of Los Angeles and the legacy of the traffic jam. Let’s think about that, and say instead that we prefer a legacy that considers what will be better for future generations of Utahns.

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