Welcome to the Legacy Loop Highway. It was named by a Leavitt, but not Gov. Mike, and it's a state-built alternate to I-15.
It is U-18 and U-56 (state roads), and it runs west of I-15, providing travelers with broad sagebrush vistas and towering red rock. It also gives travelers a respite from the heavy traffic on I-15 and the communities the major highway dissects, such as Cedar City and Parowan. (Yes, the Legacy Loop is even emptier than the environs of Parowan.)So many "Legacies." Legacy Loop, which exists; Legacy Highway, which doesn't as yet. Legacy Parkway, a section within Legacy Highway, which also doesn't exist at this writing.
Could the duplicate names pose the possibility of a high-powered family feud? Former Utah Sen. Dixie Leavitt, R-Cedar City, named the Legacy Loop, while his son, Utah Gov. Mike Leavitt, has designated his own Legacy Highway and its Legacy Parkway segment. The governor's northern Utah proposal is currently bogged down in controversy, a gaggle of alternative routes and enviromental questions.
If such a clash - highly unlikely - should occur, "I don't know who would win," said Vicki Varela, the governor's spokeswoman. "Dixie has the power of being the dad, but Mike has the power of being governor." That the father was once a powerful state legislator might add weight to his side.
Not that anyone expects shouts of anger and exasperated fist-shaking to tear apart the next Leavitt family reunion.
Someday, given the right combination of events, folks might point to the Legacy Loop as a sign of great planning for the future by the Utah Legislature. Some might capitalize on it as a way to increase travel for smaller, southwest Utah cities such as Enterprise or Newcastle, that don't normally show up in travel itineraries.
Most people, however - even those who live along its route - don't have an inkling that the Legacy Loop Highway even exists or that it has a name similar to the Legacy Highway now being hotly debated as another route through northern Utah's congested valleys.
At first glance, opponents of the northern Legacy Highway might cheer the knowledge of another Legacy road. Although the Legacy name is not copyrighted, might the dual designations lead to a second Civil War - north vs. south? If the inhabitants of Utah's Dixie (a clue to Dad's name) suddenly became defensive, they could point to the usurpation of the name as an offensive attempt by northern urbanites to rob them of their heritage. In Utah, some north/south disputes have focused on less.
In another futuristic scenario, the Legacy Loop might aspire to be the first portion of a Legacy Highway traversing the state north to south, a sign of things to come. Instead, it's more likely to remain a long-lost cousin to the 170-mile Legacy Highway, a family member that can only hope for a casual acquaintance to its more prominent relative.
People along the Legacy Loop would first of all have to become cognizant of the name of the road they travel.
From the fresh-brewed coffee drinkers at Enterprise's Cottonwood Convenience Store to the crowded aisles of Veyo Cafe, Convenience Store and Laundromat, residents along the Legacy Loop seem more concerned about losing U-18, or even the side road Matt Dillon Lane, than about losing Legacy Loop.
"I don't see anything that could cause a conflict," said Dixie Leavitt, noting that his route is a legacy because of the rich cultural heritage in the area, while his son's application of the name refers to Utah's centennial year.
The purposes for the routes also are different. While the Nephi-to-Brigham-City plan is to relieve Wasatch Front traffic congestion, the Legacy Loop was made in an attempt to drag tourists through the historical and scenic area west of Cedar City and St. George. Sites along the road include Snow Canyon, the Mountain Meadow Massacre Monument and old iron mines.
The efforts to get people to the area have not worked, however. No signs advertise the road and no scenic byway has been designated for the road.
"I doubt if anyone knows about it," Dixie said of the road he christened.
Officials with the Utah Department of Transportation, although unaware of the road's name initially when contacted by the Deseret News, said that with the proposed northern Utah Legacy routes tied up in environmental issues, they were pleased to have at least one Legacy to claim.
"It shows that the state is very serious about leaving a legacy, and they want to cover all of the bases," said Carlos Braceras, UDOT project engineer for the Legacy Parkway. The parkway is the special name given the 13-mile section of the Legacy Highway that would run through south Davis County, just west of the Legacy Retirement Inn (which has nothing to do with either highway, the Leavitts or UDOT).
Another possibility is a joining of forces for the creation of state-long Legacy Highway, he said.
"You never know, it could happen within the next 100 years," Braceras said.
Some opponents of the Legacy Highway, though not fearful about a state-long road, recommended the state use the Legacy Loop name for the northern road as well.
"The name fits the governor's idea because we think the whole idea is pretty loopy," said Lawson LeGate, district director for the Sierra Club.