Opponents of the so-called "Skier Connect" road in Sandy have failed a second time to stop construction from resuming on the project, this time in federal court.
In a ruling released Wednesday, U.S. District Senior Judge Aldon J. Anderson denied a request for a preliminary injunction sought by the Coalition for a Better Sandy, a group organized by officials of the Sandy Mall.The decision means that construction on the 1.1-mile road proposed to ease commuter congestion will resume within two weeks and be completed in about three months, according to Utah Department of Transportation spokesman Kim Morris.
Dubbed the "Skier Connect" because proponents also expect it to help direct tourist traffic through Sandy to the mountain resorts, the two-lane road would connect 90th South and Seventh East with 94th South at about 1150 East.
The $1.5 million project would bypass the Sandy Mall, which is undergoing a multimillion dollar expansion, and other businesses located at the busy commercial intersection of Seventh East and 94th South.
The coalition has been battling since last summer to keep the road from being completed, starting with a suit in 3rd District Court that only temporarily halted construction.
The latest lawsuit attempted to prove that the "Skier Connect" is actually part of a larger project sometimes referred to as the Bingham Highway, that could someday connect Copperton with Alta.
Because federal funds have already been used along portions of the Bingham Highway, the coalition suit contended, UDOT should have complied with federal regulations in planning the "Skier Connect."
Coalition attorneys argued that the federal government would have denied permission to route the road as planned through a historic farmstead belonging to a former mayor of Sandy.
State officials have maintained that no federal funds are being used to build the "Skier Connect" and that the federal regulations did not apply because it is a separate project.
In an opinion dated Tuesday, Anderson determined that the road "was not improperly segmented from a more extensive federal project," even though federal funds were used in the construction of roads it will be connected to.
Anderson also noted in the opinion that although the farmstead could be razed if the road is expanded, "the public interest will be served if construction proceeds so that the current traffic congestion and safety hazards are eliminated."