The continuously delayed preliminary studies for an additional portion of the Legacy Highway in Davis and Weber counties has received a slight shove forward.
Attempting to protect rights of way, the Wasatch Front Regional Council decided Tuesday it will most likely place the northern portion of the Legacy-West Davis Highway on its 20-year transportation plan. The route, running from Farmington to Ogden, has been pushed back a number of times because of other transportation needs such as I-15 and U.S. 89.To be included on the plan, at least vague sources of funding need to be identified, said Wil Jefferies, Wasatch Front Regional Council executive director. And even though the West Davis portion of the highway has been planned for more than 20 years, no funding sources were ever identified; and thus, the highway was not included.
The council - a regional planning body whose members include city, county and school district officials - has taken a different approach now, however. As sug-gest-ed by the Salt Lake County Council of Governments, and backed by the Davis Council of Governments, more projects will be included, with funding hopefully coming from aggressive lobbying and federal support for the Olympic Games, Jefferies said.
Initially, the northern half of the Legacy-West Davis Highway had not been planned for inclusion on the revised plan, Jefferies said.
But after a unanimous vote by the Davis Council of Governments that requested the highway be included, Jefferies said the road will "most likely" be placed on the transportation plan.
Such a move, coupled with strong support from the Davis council, may convince the Utah Transportation Commission to hasten at least the environmental studies, if not construction of the highway, he said.
"Make a strong effort to change the opinion of the UTC, and make them push up the route decision," Jefferies said.
A driving factor for the Davis Council of Governments wanting faster decisions on the highway was that in the quickly developing county, rights of way that exist now may not exist in 20 or 30 years.
"We need help in our planning, so we can tell property owners who want to develop their property what has been designated for the highway," West Point Mayor Jay Ritchie said.
Also, the county leaders said that by 2020, the bottleneck of traffic in south Davis County will have spread to north Davis. Commuters there will need options beyond I-15 and U.S. 89, both of which will be expanded by then.
"We need for people to understand the importance of this new highway," Syracuse Mayor Robert Thurgood said. "Why not put our efforts into getting the new highway?"