SYRACUSE Construction on Legacy Parkway may be complete, but local leaders have long dreamed of a connecting highway from Farmington along the western side of Davis County, north to the Weber County border and beyond.
Dubbed the "West Davis Highway" by planners more than 40 years ago, the highway could eliminate the need for commuters to bog down east-west roads in northern Davis County to get to Interstate 15, which has been, mercifully, flowing well three days in a row since Legacy opened for business.
The name "West Davis Highway" has given way to "North Legacy" since the 1990s, though it hasn't been officially named by the Utah Department of Transportation. In fact, the road hasn't been funded and isn't due to be funded for 15 years, though that could change. Transportation officials don't even know exactly where the road will be placed.
And UDOT has begun calling the road state Route 67 extension. S.R. 67 is the official road designation for Legacy Parkway.
But local leaders have, for the most part, worked successfully with developers to keep homes from being built in the way of North Legacy that would follow the general alignment of Bluff Road through western Layton, Syracuse and West Point, says Davis planning director Barry Burton.
For the most part.
In the path
If you look at a map of Syracuse's general plan, a green dotted line representing a preservation corridor extends the length of Bluff Road and crosses on top of or in front of 31 properties and the eastern edge of Glen Eagle Golf Club.
Residents in the area are convinced they'll eventually be forced to move by a coming highway if they don't move first. And the irony is that many picked the location because nothing was out there.
Joni Walton and her family, who have lived in Syracuse for about a year, learned this past weekend about the corridor that appears to cross into their property.
More irony: Walton learned about the corridor shortly after running a 10K race on Legacy Parkway as part of the parkway's opening day festivities.
Even more: Her family moved from West Valley, where homes of her friends may lose out to the Mountain View Corridor.
Walton's backyard sits right next to the black tee box for the 18th hole and, like her neighbors, she makes regular use of the nearby walking trail.
Fifteen years is a long ways away, and Walton said she understands that sometimes community needs outweigh a few homeowners.
But what if she knew before moving to Syracuse that a highway could come through her yard?
She doesn't know if it would have made a difference.
"We love it so much," she said.
Natalie Argyle has lived in her home for three years and found out about the corridor shortly after moving in.
"I don't want it in my backyard," she said, adding that her family had planned to move out of the neighborhood after a short time anyway.
Greg Senkel, who lives south of the golf course, also lives in a home in the corridor. He hopes the state deals fairly with him and doesn't devalue his home just so it can pay a cheaper price if a road takes his home.
"I want to make sure I'm compensated," he said, adding that he doesn't want to make money from the state, just enough to move into a comparable home to what he owns now.
Argyle says she likely wouldn't have bought her home if she had known about the highway. Then there's the concern about how to sell her home to a future buyer, who may live there long enough to see a highway come through.
Walton wondered why the future road couldn't be located farther east.
"There's nothing behind us," she said. "It's a great location."
Unfortunately for her, it may also be a great location for a highway. But officials don't know exactly where that highway will be yet.
In May, the Utah Transportation Commission approved $20 million to fund an environmental impact study for S.R. 67 a yearlong study designed to see what impacts a roadway would have along a 300-foot corridor from Farmington to Weber County, said commission chairman Stuart Adams.
It's something that should have happened 10 years ago, Adams said, but delays to Legacy Parkway from 2001 to 2006 translated to delays for an extension northward.
Not only will the study look at possible impacts to wetlands for a variety of alternate routes including an alternative to not build anything but it will look at impacts to homes and cities, as well.
Adams said he hopes to involve the environmental community as soon as possible and expects to receive healthy public comment from local leaders and residents during the EIS process. Since the environmental community and transportation officials came together to get Legacy Parkway back on track in 2006, Adams said their relationships have strengthened.
"I hope to continue that positive dialogue," he said.
Environmental concerns are not the only challenge. Officials in Davis County have long recognized they'd rather not buy more expensive developed land, but rapid growth on the county's westside is meaning more land in the possible corridor is getting developed.
That has spurred the Davis County Council of Governments, or COG, a planning committee of the 15 mayors and three county commissioners, to begin buying raw land for an extension to S.R. 67. During today's COG meeting in Fruit Heights, the COG is expected to vote during closed session to move forward on executing real estate deals with two property owners whose parcels of raw land sit in the proposed corridor for S.R. 67, said Davis County planner Scott Hess.
Currently, $10 of the annual fee motorists pay to register their vehicles in Davis County is dedicated toward preserving the corridor for S.R. 67, allowing the COG to spend up to $2 million a year with a 100 percent match from the state until July 2009, Hess said.29 comments on this story
But the buying power of $4 million this year and next, and $2 million a year after that is just a drop in the bucket.
Estimates peg the cost of purchasing the total corridor for S.R. 67 at over $100 million and that's just for the land.
But property owners have begun knocking on Hess' door. Eight other properties are close to or in the process of being appraised for future COG approval. Interested parties may contact Hess at (801) 451-3279."It's forward-thinking," Hess said. "It's an innovative way to pay for state roads."