About 20 percent of Davis County residents say they don't want the Legacy Parkway.
But 36 percent say that if the 13-mile, four-lane road is constructed, they or their family members will use it at least once a week.A recent Deseret News poll, conducted by Dan Jones & Associates, also revealed that Davis residents are split on where the proposed North Salt Lake-to-Farmington highway should go. Slightly more favor an eastern route, closer to I-15, that would directly impact a smaller portion of wetlands.
"The ones we talk to who are looking forward to it are the commuters," said Layton resident Julie Wilcox, who carpools daily with her husband to Salt Lake City. "The older people who have been in that area a long time and have established homes and farms may be a little concerned about what this will do to their land and way of life.
"Our house will almost be right in between (I-15 and the Legacy Parkway), so we'll probably try both and see which one is going to be faster to come in on."
Perhaps more significant than what the average Davis County resident thinks - from a policy and decisionmaking standpoint - is what the average regional planner andtransportation official believes. Those are the folks who proposed the Legacy Parkway, until recently known as the West Davis Highway, as the first segment of the 120-mile Legacy Highway promoted by Gov. Mike Leavitt.
The Legacy Highway would stretch from Willard to Nephi, west of I-15, loosely paralleling the valley's only north-south freeway.
"Our analysis shows that the entire project, all the way from north of Ogden to south of Provo, is probably the most needed new facility that should be built in the Wasatch Front," said Will Jefferies, executive director of the Wasatch Front Regional Council, an urban planning agency supervised by local governments.
The Utah Department of Transportation plans to widen I-15 in Davis County, as it is doing now in Salt Lake County, but transportation planners say that won't be enough to handle future travel demand. The Legacy Parkway is doubly important, they say, because it would become the primary north-south alternate when Davis I-15 reconstruction begins after the 2002 Winter Games.
Currently, about 9,000 vehicles travel along the north-south corridor through Davis County during a rush hour - 5-6 p.m. or 7:30-8:30 a.m., for example. As many as 8,000 of those trips are made on I-15, with U.S. 89, Redwood Road and other arterials supporting the rest of the traffic.
"The freeway breaks down for an hour in the evening - really more than an hour and that's one of the things that's frustrating," said Mick Crandall, the regional council's project manager and a Davis County resident.
"You can get up here at 6:15 in the evening and it's still not functioning very well."
By 2020, the number of vehicles crammed together on the corridor during a peak hour will more than double to 18,500, according to the regional council and its consultants. They predict about 20 percent of those vehicles will travel on Legacy Parkway, if it exists.
The poll numbers seem to reflect that, with 20 percent saying they or family members would drive the road several times a week. Sixty-two percent said they or family members would use it at least once a month.
Those numbers surprised some local leaders, who say that they wouldn't expect a lot of south Davis residents to use the road. Instead, north Davis residents choosing to use it would free up the other routes for south Davis commuters.
"In our area, not many people will go to Legacy just for such a short trip," said West Bountiful Mayor Jim Child.
As for the location, 32 percent said they prefer the western route, 37 percent prefer the eastern route and 21 percent don't want the road built at all. The western route, known as alignment C, would allow for more development east of the Legacy Parkway and would eliminate more wetlands than the eastern route, according to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.
UDOT officials, however, believe the western alignment ultimately would protect more wetlands than it would destroy.
UDOT executive director Tom Warne argues that if the eastern alternate is chosen or if the road is not built at all, development will continue to move west and encroach on the Great Salt Lake without the definitive stopping point that a western-route Legacy Parkway would provide.
"In the big picture, it (the western alignment) will do more to preserve and enhance the habitat and the wetlands out there than the east option or the no-build option," Warne said.
The survey of 101 Davis County adults, conducted June 13-19, has a margin of error of plus or minus 8 percent.
Deseret News Poll
State and federal officials are battling over a proposed alignment for the West Davis/Legacy Highway. State officials want to keep land open for development; federal agencies want to preserve environmentally sensitive wetlands.
Which option would you most prefer?
The West option 32%
(more land for commercial development/less wetland)
The East option 37%
(more wetlands/less commercial development land)
Do not want Legacy Highway built at all 21%
Don't know 8%
If the West Davis/Legacy Highway is built, how often would you estimate that your immediate family would use it?
Several times a week 20%
Once or twice a week 16%
Once or twice a month 26%
Don't know 5%
A poll of 101 adults in Davis County was conducted June 13-19 with a margin of error of =/- 8.0 by Dan Jones & Associates an independent polling firm whose clients include other organizations and sometimes political parties and candidates.
Copyright Deseret News, 1998.