Some wore suits. Others dressed in boots, jeans and large silver belt buckles. But they all brought the same message: Don't ban trucks from Provo Canyon.
"If you close down the canyon, it will add $50 to $60 to each trip," said Jim Blazzard, Kamas, whose trucking firm uses Provo Canyon to haul lumber to customers in Southern California, Arizona, New Mexico and Texas."That extra cost could exclude us from those markets," he told the Utah Transportation Commission on Friday.
The added cost comes from fuel and wear and tear on an 18-wheel rig as it climbs the west slope of Parley's Summit then whines down the other side on I-80 - the suggested detour if truck traffic is restricted in Provo Canyon.
Burning more fuel would also spew more pollution into the air, said Farrell Jensen, of L.L.C. Transport in American Fork.
He passed out a study to the commissioners that found little if any time is saved by using Provo Canyon, but truckers and the environment can be spared the cost of an extra three gallons of diesel fuel required to take I-80 instead.
"The time's the same, but what's the point? It's to reduce pollution," he said. "Don't close (Provo Canyon) on the back of clean air because that's fictitious."
The thrust of the message was that local trucking and livestock firms will suffer economically if their rigs are banned from traveling the environmentally sensitive canyon. But another point the truckers tried to get across was the need to hurry on the road's reconstruction.
Holding up a large, framed color photo of sheep grazing on the side of the Provo Canyon road - a practice that was outlawed years ago - Goshen stockman Ray Okelberry said:
"The sheep have changed but the road hasn't."
Several of the truckers said the narrow, winding canyon road is the hazard, not semi-trailer truck traffic.
"I'd much rather follow a truck than some old couple hauling a trailer, looking at the leaves, wandering all over the road; then they get into a jam, slam on the brakes and get into an accident," said Rod Wade, of Park City Truck Lines.
The 10-15 local trucking and livestock operators attending the meeting argued that their interests have been ignored. One warned commissioners against listening too much to "professors and actors," perhaps in reference to Brigham Young University faculty who have apparently spoken out against trucks in the canyon and actor Robert Redford, owner of Sundance Resort who has led the charge for restricting truck traffic.
Rep. Bill Wright, R-Elberta, who introduced the delegation, said there has been lack of communication between the trucking industry and supporters of the ban.
Julie Mack, environmental facilitator for Sundance, agreed, saying the resort doesn't desire banning trucks hauling local livestock or commerce. But despite the apparent misunderstanding, she is confident both parties can come to terms.
Rarely a month passes without the Provo Canyon controversy appearing on the commission's bi-monthly agenda. The commission has resolved not to ban truck traffic unless a proven safety or environmental hazard warrants it.
A study by UDOT is under way to see if such hazards exist.