I am glad the Utah Department of Transportation made a thorough decision and listened to the many people behind the huge public outcry supporting the Glover's Lane option over the Shepard Lane option for the West Davis Corridor. The current decision ensures that homes are saved from unnecessary destruction when an alternative through unpopulated areas is available.
UDOT learned from the South Legacy Project what was necessary to ensure that their legal position against outside environmentalists is solid. They put forth plans, then listened to significant public comment and made a decision that included the views of real people impacted by the decision. Environmentalists want wetlands, and wetlands are addressed. UDOT's current plan balances interests: They listened to citizens and considered the interests of people, families and existing homes and neighborhoods in addition to the interests of outside special interest environmental groups who do not live in the area.
Critically, the current decision ensures that nearly 220 homes within 300 feet of Shepard Lane do not lose the quality of life and diminished property value that would have occurred had UDOT caved to pressure from the powerful and well-funded outside environmental groups and merchants who want to control traffic patterns past their places of business.
Wetlands are important. The current plan ensures that wetlands will be properly addressed. Impact to existing wetlands can be mitigated; impact to people cannot be mitigated in the same way, and UDOT's current decision understands and reflects this. The Legacy Highway Project in South Davis County is an excellent example of how wetlands can be created in locations that allow for necessary mitigation of wildlife and insects and moved to co-exist with our growing population. The current decision by UDOT will allow for wetlands without destroying existing homes, families and relationships of people.
Certain merchants understandably want more cars passing their shops off of a bottleneck that would be created on I-15 if the Shepard Lane option were chosen. Fortunately, UDOT listened to the many as opposed to the wealthy few. Had UDOT listened to the few interested in the Shepard Lane interchange, there would not only have been a freeway passing through the neighborhood of nearly 220 families in Farmington and Kaysville, but also a diminished quality of life for everyone in Davis County who uses what would be a much more congested I-15. The current decision allows for a true alternate route in and out of Davis County for emergency situations beyond the daily commute and foresight to allow for inevitable growth.
Additionally, the decision by UDOT will not require modification to the existing TRAX system that would be a multimillion dollar cost to taxpayers. Those in all of Davis County should be grateful that UDOT is willing to stand up for a second artery into Davis County and not succumb to a bottleneck in order to placate special interest groups.
This decision is a great example of what government should do — listen to local citizens and make a decision that is in the best interests of those impacted by the decision.
Mike Woolley is a resident of Kaysville and member of the Transportation Lawyers Association.