A public hearing on a recommendation to turn U.S. 89 into a limited-access expressway, delayed last week by the City Council, will be Thursday at 6 p.m.
Mayor Richard McKenzie said the city last week had just received the formal recommendation made by the consulting firm that did the study and needed more time to look at the recommendation.The preliminary recommendation to convert the four-lane highway into a limited-access expressway was made a month ago by Parsons Brinckeroff Quade & Daniels Inc.
In a stormy hearing in Layton High School, the expressway recommendation and its estimated $70 million cost received mixed reviews. Citizens and some public officials opposed it, saying it would be too expensive, would require appropriation of private land for frontage and access roads, and would take too long to implement.
Opponents to it favor reducing the 55 mph speed limit on U.S. 89 instead and adding traffic signals at major intersections.
McKenzie and the Farmington City Council are already on record as opposing the limited-expressway concept. McKenzie said he doesn't believe the approach would solve the highway's speed and accident rate problems and the cities involved don't have the money required to pay for their share of the improvements.
Farmington opposes the concept because of its effect on the city's new shopping center and commercial center at U.S. 89 and Shepard Lane.
An expressway could limit customer access to the shopping center to the point that its major tenant, a Smith's Superstore, could be forced to close, the council was warned.
And, Farmington has an agreement with the Utah Department of Transportation to install a traffic signal at the intersection this spring, an agreement that will cost the city nearly $300,000 for its share of the cost.
That is money the city would be throwing away if the traffic signal is eventually torn out and replaced by an expressway and interchange at the intersection, which the city would have to pay for again, according to the council's resolution.
But other cities and political entities in Davis County support the concept, especially the city government of Fruit Heights, which spearheaded the traffic and safety study.
The technical steering committee of the Davis Council of Governments endorsed the recommendation at its meeting last week.
The committee includes council and staff representatives from cities along the route, which runs from Farmington to Uintah in Weber County, as well as regional and state transportation planning agencies.
In endorsing the expressway concept, COG members emphasized they acted as committee members, not city or county representatives.
UDOT representatives told committee members that a unified voice of support for the expressway concept vital to obtaining state money for an environmental impact statement, detailed design plans and eventual construction.
Douglas Hattery, transportation engineer for the Wasatch Front Regional Council, said he will obtain similar endorsements from the governing bodies of cities and counties affected by the highway.
Parsons is scheduled to submit the final report to the Wasatch Front Regional Council by March 9.