Local government officials want to know exactly where northern Davis County and Salt Lake County segments of the Legacy Highway will be built.
City representatives asked the Utah Transportation Commission Wednesday to fund studies that would pinpoint alignments for the planned highway, which someday could stretch more than 170 miles between Nephi and Tremonton.Officials from northern Davis County, where the commission's monthly meeting was held, previously were told that an 18-mile, four-lane road would be built from Burke Lane in Farmington to 12th Street in Ogden - perhaps in the next 20 years.
But that route, identified by a Wasatch Front Regional Council study, was narrowed only to a 400-foot-wide right-of-way. That's just too much land for cities to effectively protect, the local officials said. They want the Utah Department of Transportation to narrow the path to the 200-foot width it will actually need.
"We think now is the time, regardless of when the road is built, to give us the opportunity to protect that right-of-way for the future," Clinton Mayor DeMar Mitchell told the commission.
West Point Mayor Jay Ritchie said there is now only one home in the identified corridor. But if growth in Davis County continues as it has, he said, there could be many more homes in the way by the time UDOT has the money to buy the property and build the road.
"The need for the Legacy Highway exists and we want to do our part to make that possible," he said.
The commission also heard from city officials from Salt Lake County, who are in the same bind. They know only that the Legacy Highway will follow a path roughly between 5600 and 5800 West through the Salt Lake Valley.
Riverton Mayor Sandra Lloyd said she wants to avoid a repeat of what happened when the Bangerter Highway route through her city was chosen along 13800 South. Fourteen new homes were removed to make way for the road, she said.
Wil Jefferies, executive director of the Wasatch Front Regional Council, asked the commission to provide $430,000 for studies to define the path Legacy will follow from Farmington to Ogden.
The commission stopped short of approving that request, saying it isn't sure where the money would come from. But it unanimously approved a motion by Commissioner Ted Lewis to support the idea of narrowing preferred alignments for the Legacy Highway in both northern Davis and Salt Lake counties.
The commission directed UDOT to work with the regional council and cities along the two corridors to further define the route, come up with ways to fund the studies and develop inexpensive strategies for protecting the right-of-way. The commission, which makes all funding and policy decisions for UDOT, is likely to take up the issue again in coming months.
"The need is clear," said UDOT Executive Director Tom Warne. "The solutions aren't so clear."
The Legacy Parkway, 13 miles from North Salt Lake to Farmington, is the first segment of the Legacy Highway scheduled for construction. Its final alignment still remains in doubt over environmental issues.