Several west-side mayors and business leaders have joined with the Utah Trucking Association to form a group opposing construction of the Mountain View Corridor as a toll road.
The group, while still informal, plans to raise funds and lobby the Legislature this January to find a way to fund the proposed highway without toll revenue. The group also wants more funding options for transportation in general.
Those involved in the group include Taylorsville Mayor Russ Wall and Chamber West, which represents more than 500 businesses in Taylorsville, Kearns and West Valley City. The cities of South Jordan and Herriman have also attended meetings.
Mountain View is proposed to run through western Salt Lake County into northwest Utah County. Engineers with the Utah Department of Transportation are in the middle of an environmental study of the road. No funding exists to build it, according to UDOT.
Those involved with the toll-road group said they worry about the effects of a toll road on nearby businesses and homes. Wall said Monday that he believes no one would use Mountain View if it were built as a toll road. Instead, people would use side roads through his city to get around.
Alan Anderson, president and chief executive officer of Chamber West, said Monday that his group supports the road being built as a "free" highway. Toll roads, he said, are unfair because they require users to pay for roads twice: Once with the state gas tax, and again with a toll.
"We are getting organized because we are concerned about the Mountain View Corridor becoming a toll road," he said. "There might be advantages to pooling our resources together, just to make sure that we secure it as a freeway not as a toll road."
Controversy over Mountain View started earlier this year when UDOT began studying whether the highway would work as a toll road. The department released a "tolling analysis" in September that showed tolls could pay for about two-thirds of the cost of building the highway.
UDOT officials plan to hold a meeting Thursday for the state Transportation Commission to get input from lawmakers, city officials and the trucking association about the analysis. An open house for public comment will follow that.
The seven-member commission is expected to decide sometime next year whether to impose tolls on Mountain View. In December, the group will hear a recommendation from UDOT about where the road's alignment in Salt Lake County should be.
Dave Owen, a consultant for the trucking association, said Monday that he believes a mobilized group of mayors and business leaders can influence the Legislature, which will decide how to fund the remaining one-third of the cost to build Mountain View if it is built as a toll road.
"Cities, if they get together and talk with one voice, they're pretty loud, especially in the House of Representatives," Owen said. "We want to put those voices together and get ready for the session to put on some pressure."
One voice that won't be there, however, is West Valley Mayor Dennis Nordfelt. He said Monday that he isn't a fan of the highway being built as a toll road, but he wants to leave the option of tolls available, just in case.
"I'd rather have a toll road than no road at all," he said.The Trucking Association has a Web site for Mountain View at: goutahgo.org. UDOT's Mountain View Web site is: www.udot.utah.gov/mountainview.
If you go ...
What: Mountain View Corridor panel discussion and open house
When: Thursday, 8 a.m.-noon panel discussion; 1-4 p.m. open houseWhere: Salt Lake Community College, Miller Campus, 9750 S. 300 West, Sandy.
E-mail: [email protected]