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Legacy Highway offers more than congestion relief

Published: Saturday, Sept. 13 2008 12:31 a.m. MDT

Anyone who travels I-15 in south Davis County should have plenty to cheer as the long-awaited Legacy Parkway opens late this afternoon.

As the first multilane alternative to I-15 north of Salt Lake City, one of the state's worst bottlenecks will hopefully lessen.

However, there's more to the new road than just congestion relief. That's because traversing the Legacy Parkway can be an artsy delight, unlike traveling cousin I-15 to the east.

Because Legacy has a 55 mph speed limit, it will take about two minutes longer to traverse the 14-mile stretch than it will to drive the same distance on I-15 at 65 mph under ideal conditions.

How will you spend those extra minutes? Here are eight things to notice while on Legacy Parkway:

The trails

If this doesn't prompt people to get off their treadmills and go outside, nothing will. Look for a paved trail along much of the east side of the roadway. There's also a dirt trail on the west side. More than a half dozen special parking lots provide access to the paths, which accommodate foot, bicycle and equestrian traffic.

Artistic touches

Even the guard rails are more than ordinary along the Legacy. Students of architecture in particular could use the highway as an outdoor classroom, though such art is probably wasted on people who aren't astute when it comes to art.

Stone work

"Farmington" kind of rock work dominates on the overpasses and monuments. It create a kind of portal effect reminiscent of the north entrance to Yellowstone National Park. The two northern rock monuments are particularly impressive.

Wetlands

Late summer is a bad time to be looking for wetlands to the west along the Legacy's large nature preserve. However, there are 20 total acres of "pocket" wetlands scattered along the highway. You've just got to look for areas surrounded by special webbed fencing.

Signs and fences

The road signs are much lower here than on I-15. Because semis won't normally travel this road, shorter signs are probably OK. Even the fences along the parkway have a kind of rural flavor and the roadside commuter cameras don't resemble the usual UDOT style either.

Bountiful Pond

Unless you are from Bountiful, you likely don't know about this body of water north of the city landfill. However, Legacy goes right by the pond and will put this recreational asset on the map.

Sweeping views

Cement walls block eastern views along many portions of I-15 in south Davis County now. But Legacy has no such walls. There are more panoramic views of the Wasatch Mountains to the east.

Future connection

Here's the only downside to the Legacy Parkway. If it is ever extended northward, there would be a huge problem. Motorists may have to jump back on a bottlenecked I-15 for more than a mile before picking up Legacy Parkway again. That's because the Farmington FrontRunner station and west Farmington development block a direct connection.


E-mail: lynn@desnews.com

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