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West Davis Corridor project unveiled amid criticism

Published: Friday, May 17 2013 6:12 a.m. MDT

Looking north from Glovers Lane to I-15, FrontRunner and the Legacy Highway at far left in Farmington, Thursday, May 16, 2013. The area is proposed as a possible location for the West Davis Corridor highway.

Ravell Call, Deseret News

KAYSVILLE — Forty-six options were narrowed to two. Those two were narrowed to one. And now the plan for a 24-mile expansion of Lagacy Parkway in Davis County is under scrutiny with the Thursday release of a UDOT study measuring its impacts.

The Parkway would extend from Centerville to Marriott-Slaterville in western Weber County between the Great Salt Lake and I-15. UDOT's preferred option is the Glovers Lane route, extending from Farmington in Davis County to 4100 West in Weber County, a plan state officials said provides the fewest harmful impacts.

But civic leaders in Davis County are concerned the recommended route will provide little advantage for their community. And others blast the plan as shortsighted when a comprehensive transportation plan would serve the communities better.

Farmington Mayor Scott Harbertson said because the proposed option offers no convenient access through his city, the project would likely be detrimental.

“It does nothing for Farmington,” he said. “It just becomes a major highway through our city. It does not give us any benefit or advantage whatsoever.”

He said his community would be better served by the option that utilized Shepard Lane to the north rather than Glovers Lane.

“That would have been great access. Easy on, easy off,” he said. “It would have alleviated traffic concerns on Park Lane. But if you’re travelling southbound on the West Davis Corridor (as recommended), you bypass Farmington.”

Harbertson said he is a proponent of the corridor and said the highway is needed. “But what we were fighting and hoping for was a little more benefit for Farmington,” he said.

UDOT released the Draft Environmental Impact Study with the expectation of getting plenty of feedback during the required 90-day comment period. A final decision is expected by spring 2014.

Among the impacts:

The new route would require that 26 households be relocated, as well as five businesses. An additional five residences and an additional business could also be relocated, the UDOT plan indicates.

The suggested route would impact 110 acres of prime farmland and 52 acres of high-quality wetlands.

Cost or the project is an estimated $587 million. Funding for the project would come from either federal highway funds or could be funded using state monies.

“Currently, there is no funding for construction,” Randy Jefferies, UDOT project manager for the West Davis Corridor, said, noting the project could be constructed in phases. Completion of the project depends on funding.

Jefferies said the preferred alternative has some clear advantages in serving the greatest volume of traffic and providing the most effective interchange with I-15 and Legacy Parkway.

The plan also has the lowest level of impact on homes, farmland and businesses compared to the other alternatives, Jefferies said.

“This alternative has minimal impact to high quality wetlands and meets all air quality standards set by the (U.S. Environmental Protection Agency),” he said. “Overall, this alternative met the transportation needs the best with the least overall level of impact.”

He said the population along the corridor is expected to grow from 150,000 people to 250,000 people by 2040 with the number of homes in the area expected to double during the period.

He said without the West Davis Corridor project, traffic congestion during that period is anticipated to grow 375 percent. The Glovers Lane alternative would reduce congestion by 60 percent, making a significant impact, he said.

“We have very seriously considered these alternatives and made our recommendation,” Jefferies said. “We know it affects thousands of lives and affects the environment as well, so we want to get it right.”

UDOT has faced harsh criticism by opponents of the project.

This month a coalition of groups issued a joint declaration in support of what they call the "shared solution" and urged that the alternative be given fair consideration.

Distributed to the governor's office, UDOT, the Utah division of the Federal Highway Administration and multiple Utah lawmakers, the "shared solution" embraced several components, including emphasis on locally focused roadway design.

According to Roger Borgernicht, co-chairman of Utahns for Better Transportation, the plan also calls for innovative intersections and "boulevard community development" that incorporates housing, retail and employment on any given stretch of roadway.

He said the value in boulevard communities is that they reduce vehicle miles traveled by placing housing, jobs and services close to each other — something this latest proposal fails to accomplish.

“We should do 'smart sequencing' of a shared solution for future mobility, looking at cars, looking at transit, looking at bicycling and looking at communities that allow walking to some (destinations),” Borgernicht said. “A balanced transportation approach that leads to shared solutions.

He said the coalition preferred that the environmental impact study not been issued because the group's shared solution would be a much more reasonable alternative than building another highway.

Farmington City Manager David Millheim said he was disappointed with UDOT's recommendation but he stopped short of criticism.

“I may not agree with every nuanced interpretation, but I think (UDOT) is trying really hard to explain why the road is needed,” Millheim said. “I’m not going to throw stones at the process at this point because everyone is working hard to try to navigate a very difficult minefield.”

He offered support for the proposal to develop the roadway to mitigate projected growth along the corridor, but also noted that the development process must be conducted in a fair and equitable fashion for all involved.

“This highway is very important,” he said. “We want to make sure the (recommended) route is the smartest route.”

Comments on the proposal can by posted online at udot.utah.gov/westdavis. UDOT has scheduled three public hearings on the proposal. Each is from 6 to 9 p.m.

June 11 at the Legacy Events Center, 151 S. 110 West, Farmington.

June 12 at West Point Jr. High, 277 W. 550 North, West Point.

June 13 at Freedom Elementary, 4555 W. 5500 South, Hooper.

E-mail: jlee@deseretnews.com

Twitter: JasenLee1

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