The Utah Transportation Commission decided Friday to go ahead with plans to locate a road to Park City in a dairy farmer's pasture after learning alternative routes would add at least $750,000 to the $1.6 million project.
The commission had ordered Utah Department of Transportation staff review their routing of U-224 from Kimball's Junction to Park City to see if the pasture could be spared.But after UDOT District 2 Director Sheldon McConkie outlined the additional costs of several suggested alternatives, all but one commissioner voted to follow the original proposal.
Commissioner R. LaVaun Cox said after the meeting that he would have preferred to see more effort made to prevent a lawsuit by D.A. Osguthorpe, who has vowed to fight to keep his 45-year-old dairy operation going.
At issue is the state's compliance with a federal Environmental Protection Agency requirement that land be purchased to replace so-called wetlands that would be paved over.
UDOT officials say that the only feasible land they can buy to meet that requirement is Osguthorpe's pasture, because it contains a creek. Osguthorpe, however, said that without the creek, he can no longer maintain his herd.
The state's plan includes building a reservoir to water Osguthorpe's cows as well as an underpass so the herd can reach the pasture without crossing the highway. The current highway separates Osguthorpe's home and barn from the pasture.
Alternatives considered by the staff would have routed the highway around both the pasture and the buildings to a nearby hill or through where the buildings are located in exchange for other property.
Still to be resolved is how much money will be paid for Osguthorpe's land. McConkie calculated the cost of various options using a per-acre price of between $14,500 and $100,000, indicating the disparity between the price acceptable to both sides.