Legacy Parkway gets green light
Utah officials, activists hail the proposal, but truckers are unhappy
Both state officials and Davis County leaders said negotiating a deal to end lawsuits against Legacy was in the "best interest" of taxpayers. Since 2001, the cost to build Legacy has risen by $217 million. An additional court challenge would have increased the cost by another $100 million.
The current cost to build the road is estimated at $689 million.
"We could have said we're going to court again and then spent another two to three years and another $100 million and maybe won," said Lt. Gov. Gary Herbert. "But it's somewhat of a crap shoot whether you win or lose. I'm sure the state thought they would win before, and now, $220 million later, we haven't built any road. I don't know if that's in the best interest of the taxpayer."
Construction on Legacy was halted in 2001 after a successful lawsuit by the Sierra Club, Salt Lake City Mayor Rocky Anderson and Utahns for Better Transportation. The Utah Department of Transportation and two federal administrations were asked by the courts to review five environmental impacts of the road more extensively.
The Legacy Parkway is planned to run adjacent to the Great Salt Lake, stretching 14 miles from North Salt Lake to Farmington. About 160 acres of wetlands will be destroyed by construction of the road.
Despite the impact, Davis County leaders say residents have waited long enough for the road to be built. The county has no major alternative to I-15.
"It's wonderful to have a choice for another alternative to mobility in the county," said Davis County Commissioner Dannie McConkie.
Added Layton Mayor Jerry Stevenson: "I'm not sure it's a perfect agreement, but it'll get traffic moving at least."
Those who have fought against construction of Legacy say negotiations will be a "win win" for Davis County, Weber County and all others who travel north of Salt Lake City. The environment will be better protected, and residents will have more alternatives for travel, said Marc Heileson, regional representative for the Sierra Club.
Said Roger Borgenicht, with Utahns for Better Transportation: "You don't win everything in a compromise, but I think we advanced the notion of civilized roads and more transportation options."
As part of the agreement signed Wednesday, the state has said they will work to set up a process for avoiding future lawsuits like the lengthy challenge against Legacy. Carlos Braceras, deputy director for the Utah Department of Transportation, said a precedent will be set that allows for negotiations to occur early in the process of building a road.
"We're solving problems here," he said. "We believe we have found a way to find answers without going to court."To read details of the settlement, or more more details about the Legacy Parkway, log on to: www.udot.utah.gov.
Contributing: Lisa Riley Roche, Bob Bernick Jr.
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