Community members speak out against highway proposal in Davis County

May 9, 2013

A coalition of environmental and community organizations are asking the Utah Department of Transportation to reevaluate their proposal for the West Davis Corridor, a 24-mile highway that would skirt the Great Salt Lake to the north of the Farmington Bay Wildlife Management Area.

Tim Wagner is from the Utah Sierra Club and said that a draft plan by the Utah Department of Transportation to build a 4-lane highway along the banks of the Great Salt Lake is misguided.

“One of the big issues is the fact that Utah’s own data to verify the Wastach Front Regional Council does not support building a freeway up through there,” Wagner said. “Their own data clearly shows in 2040 that the road is vastly underutilized, by 20 to 40 percent at full capacity and during peak hour afternoon rush hour traffic. There is no need for the road to begin with.”

The Sierra Club was one of a number of groups who held a joint press conference yesterday to reject the proposed West Davis Freeway, and to support alternatives for addressing future transportation needs in Western Davis County. In particular the groups advocated abandoning plans for the new highway and embracing what they called a Shared Solution Alternative, including an emphasis on roadway design, innovative intersections, “boulevard community” development, transit system management strategies and bicycle trail networks.

UDOT is currently considering two locations for the corridor in Farmington and Kaysville. But Todd Jensen of the Attorneys for Clean Air and Environment said that having two options presents what he called a false choice.

Our goal is to let all of those people know there is an alternative to the two bad choices that UDOT is forcing on them,” Jensen said. “There is a shared solution that doesn’t involve building a new highway. It involves improving the existing infrastructure. That’s the message we really want to get out to people, especially the neighborhood groups and the people who are really going to be affected by this.”

Roger Borgenicht, co-chairman of Utahns for Better Transportation, said UDOT was focusing too much on highway development as an answer to the region’s congestion problems.

“They’re just proposing two alternative highway designs and not looking at land use configurations,” Borgenicht said. “Not looking at the improvement, creative improvement of the arterials of West Davis and Weber County and innovating intersections that could provide some relief at the congestion choke points. They’re just positing it as a new highway in way West Davis County beyond where there is even any development currently.”

The proposed expansion of the Legacy Parkway would run from Centerville to Marriott-Slaterville in western Weber County. UDOT plans to release its draft environmental impact statement next week and a public comment period will be open for 90 days thereafter. UDOT spokesman John Gleason said that the participation of the community was vital, and that all options were still on the table.

“You want to take into consideration community concerns, environmental impacts and also meet the needs of transportation over the next few decades,” Gleason said. “It isn’t, it’s a balance. That’s why this process is so important and there are so many steps to it because we want to make sure that we’re making the right decision.”