Legacy Parkway opens to public on Saturday

Published: Sunday, Sept. 7 2008 12:00 a.m. MDT

A pedestrian overpass connects to a parking lot allowing access to the trailhead near Woods Cross.

Mike Terry, Deseret News

Forget that the Legacy Parkway is joyfully expected to take 30 percent of the cars off I-15 in south Davis County.

(That's three out of every 10 cars there now, or about 45,000 total.)

Never mind that it should improve air quality in the area, because of less congestion.

Ignore the fact that it will provide a viable, multilane option through northern Utah when I-15 is closed or restricted due to an accident.

Overlook that after $685.2 million, more than 7 1/2 years of combined work and delays, this four-lane and 14-mile-long highway will finally open in just six more days.

There's so much more to the Legacy Parkway, which opens about 5 p.m. Saturday.

• The Legacy Parkway — state Route 67 — is the first parkway in Utah to be given the scenic byway designation before construction was finished. It will be a far different driving experience than I-15.

• The road purposely curves frequently to enhance its scenic qualities.

• Being farther west than I-15, its views of the Wasatch Mountains are extraordinary.

• Semitrailers are not allowed on the highway, with the exception of during accidents or problems on I-15.

• Most of the architectural features — guard rails, overpasses, etc. — are unique and worth close inspection. Some of the road's overpasses boast decorative nighttime illumination.

• The rock work on overpasses strengthens a "gateway" or "portal" effect when driving through.

• Signs along Legacy are shorter and less unsightly.

• As an asphalt highway, Legacy is designed to be much quieter than I-15.

• There's both a paved foot-bike-horse trail that goes alongside the road as well as a separate unpaved path. Numerous special parking lots along the east side of Legacy offer easy access to these trails.

"It's been a great project," Rick Campagna, one of the three project managers for the Legacy Parkway, said. "It's a work of art."

Vic Saunders, a spokesman for UDOT Region 1, believes the estimate of taking 30 percent of cars off I-15 is reasonable. That's because southbound Highway 89 through Farmington dumps right into Legacy. You can exit to I-15, but that's not the norm.

"If I lived in east Davis County I would take Legacy," Saunders said.

Also, once you get on the Legacy Parkway, there are only two possible exits until its end — an exit at Parrish Lane in Centerville and another at 500 South in Bountiful.

Similarly, if you are driving north on I-215, that freeway will lead directly into Legacy, unless you exit to the east to connect with I-15.

Lynn de Freitas, executive director for Friends of the Great Salt Lake, took a tour of the Legacy Parkway a few weeks ago.

"I'm delighted. ... There's a lot going for it," she said, hoping it will set a pattern for more "multimodal answers" to transportation problems.

"Turning a freeway into a parkway" is a very good environmental solution, she believes.

Former Rep. Stuart Adams, R-Layton, was part of a team of lawmakers pushing for the Legacy Parkway settlement to pass. Today Adams is head of the state's Transportation Commission.

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