It's been a little more than a year since Salt Lake County's west-side cities started rallying against the idea that toll charges could be a way to pay for the Mountain View Corridor.
But several west-side cities are starting to re-emphasize their opposition to tolling by passing resolutions against that possibility in the hopes that it will be taken off the table once and for all.
"A year ago, basically, Utah's Department of Transportation said the tolling issue was dead," said West Jordan Mayor Dave Newton. "Then all of a sudden it started popping up again. The response of the cities is, 'Wait a minute, we had better make sure everyone understands our position.' We thought the issue had gone away, but apparently, it hasn't."
West Jordan passed a resolution in February 2007 encouraging the Legislature and UDOT to consider funding options other than tolling. Bluffdale, South Jordan and West Valley City signed similar resolutions at that time.
West Valley signed another resolution last week to reiterate its position that tolling is the "least desirable option" for funding the $2 billion-plus, 44-mile highway that is planned to stretch from I-80 in western Salt Lake County to northern Utah County. Taylorsville also recently discussed the resolution.
Other options to fund the road could include an increased gas tax, increased registration fees or increased costs for auto services, West Valley City Councilman Mike Winder said. None of those is desirable, but any one of them would share the burden, Winder said.
"I think it would be more beneficial to say, 'What's the lesser of the evils here?' because none of those are likable funding mechanisms," Winder said. "I would argue that as despised as increases in gas tax or registration fees are, those would be more equitable to everyone for the road, because then everyone in the state would share it, rather than just those on the west side."
UDOT studied tolling as a funding option at the request of the state Legislature, said UDOT spokesman Nile Easton. The study, now complete, is included in an environmental impact study of the road, but tolling is not something UDOT is pushing for, Easton said. It's basically a concept that's been on the shelf for more than a year that will ultimately be decided by the Legislature.
"We're completely neutral on tolling," Easton said. "We were asked to study it, and we did. Really, our role in tolling is done. Whether it's a toll road will be decided by the Legislature."
Tolling wouldn't entirely pay for construction of the road, Easton said. So far, UDOT has a donation of land, worth $80 million as long as construction on a 10-mile stretch of the road near 9000 South and Redwood Road begins within five years and funds to purchase the right-of-way along the corridor. Federal funds to pay for the road are "drying up," Easton said.
More information on the Mountain View Corridor can be found at www.udot.utah
Riverton City Council officials signed a resolution against tolling at a council meeting Tuesday night. Mayor Bill Applegarth said the road is a necessity for the western valley, and funding it through tolling would be an "unfair tax.""I believe the mainstream Legislature is working to finance this in a non-toll way," Applegarth said. "Everyone realizes how critical it is that it be built. (The resolution) supports that, makes clear our position and reminds people of it. I think the Legislature is doing a tremendous job in moving the project forward."
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