SALT LAKE CITY — A controversial proposal to build a roadway parallel to I-15 in Davis County has been refined in an effort to reduce the potential negative impacts to local residents and the environment.

The Utah Department of Transportation has developed a new plan for the proposed West Davis Corridor project that would lower the number of homes affected by the construction of the new highway and reduce the area of wetlands and farmlands impacted by the road.

The latest plan would cut the number of residential relocations from approximately 69 properties down to about 50 homes.

In addition, the amount of environmentally sensitive wetlands affected by the project has been reduced from 137 acres to 50 acres, and the amount of farmlands impacted from 232 acres to less than 200 acres.

UDOT officials said one of the key aspects of the project has been public involvement in determining the most beneficial plan with the lowest impact.

"The prospect of a new corridor in their area can be concerning," said Randy Jefferies, UDOT project manager for the West Davis Corridor. "So we're working with (residents) to minimize impacts to their communities as much as possible."

At issue is a proposed $600 million, 24-mile-long project to construct a roadway along the West Davis Corridor that would travel from Centerville in Davis County to Marriott-Slaterville in Weber County between the Great Salt Lake on the west to I-15 on the east.

Transportation officials say the road is needed to mitigate projected traffic growth through the year 2040. But some area residents and conservation groups have expressed concerns about the project claiming it would displace families and threaten natural wetlands.

Jefferies said the addition of the new roadway and planned commuter-rail improvements would significantly reduce congestion on I-15 by lowering the number of vehicles on the freeway by 50 percent. With months of study still to go, he said further review would hopefully bring even more refinement to the proposed plan.

Jefferies said a draft environmental impact statement is scheduled to be released next spring, with a final decision on the project anticipated to come by spring 2014.

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