Three major public-works projects that have been discussed for several years in Davis County should be coordinated into a single proposal, outgoing county commissioner Dub Lawrence proposed this week.
At his last commission meeting Wednesday, Lawrence proposed the county take the lead in rebuilding the causeway to Antelope Island, building a west Davis highway and diking Farmington Bay on the Great Salt Lake, turning it into a fresh-water impoundment.All three could be done as parts of a single, massive public works project that would ensure the county's future, Lawrence said.
His proposal is to route the west Davis highway on top of a restored causeway from Syracuse to Antelope Island, south along the island's east side, and then atop another dike from the south end of the island, connecting it to I-80 at around 7200 West in Salt Lake County.
Because most of the affected area, including the stretch of the Great Salt Lake included in the new fresh-water bay, is within the boundaries of Davis County, the county could finance it by forming a water conservancy district and issuing bonds, Lawrence told his fellow commissioners.
The bonds would be repaid by revenue generated from selling the water captured in Farmington Bay as secondary or irrigation water, Lawrence said.
Shifting the west Davis highway out to Antelope Island would enhance tourism, he said, and actually reduce the highway's construction cost. Any route along the east shore of the Great Salt Lake, in the west portion of the county, would be expensive because of wetlands mitigation required by federal law, he said.
Building the highway through the marshlands would cost up to $100 million, Lawrence estimated, adding by moving it to the island and using fill from the island to build the causeways, the cost could be reduced as much as 60 percent.
Several agencies, including the Great Salt Lake Authority appointed two years ago by the Legislature, have endorsed portions of the proposal, Lawrence said, but until now no one has put them into a single package.
Putting it all together, with the resultant tourism boost and increased water resource, would make Davis County "the crown jewel of the state of Utah," Lawrence said.
Although he leaves office Monday, Lawrence volunteered to continue working on the project as a private citizen.
Fellow commissioner Robert Rose, also leaving office Monday, said he is "thrilled and excited" about the project.
Commission chairman Gayle Stevenson, the only one of the three remaining in office, said he appreciates Lawrence's proposal and will pass it along to the two new commissioners.