Alternate route saves farmland

Jan 25 2012 - 7:38am

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SYRACUSE -- The Utah Department of Transportation's changes to one of its final two alternatives for the West Davis Corridor would save nearly 40 acres of prime farmland in Syracuse.

The West Davis Corridor study team has refined its Alternative B by moving it farther east in Syracuse, where it will run along a portion of Bluff Road, an option lobbied for by Syracuse and many in the farming community.

No changes have been made to Alternative A, which UDOT released in September.

During the initial screening process of alternatives, farmers on the west side of Weber and Davis counties loudly voiced concern about how UDOT's options would significantly damage the area's farming industry.

The farmers, along with the Utah Farm Bureau Federation and the Utah Department of Agriculture and Food, held several meetings with UDOT and even conducted a daylong tour through some of the farms that would be affected.

"We've had some issues in Syracuse with farmland," UDOT Project Manager Randy Jeffries said, "so we've made some refinements to one of our alternatives that keep the residential and wetland impacts the same, but save quite a bit of farmland."

UDOT's previous option in Syracuse, which ran closer to 3000 West, would have required 13 residential relocations and four business relocations. It also would have affected 37.1 acres of irrigated cropland, 41.8 acres of agricultural protected land and 26.8 acres of wetlands.

The new Bluff Road option would require 14 residential relocations and three business relocations, and would affect 0.4 acres of irrigated cropland, 2.2 acres of agricultural protected land and 26.7 acres of wetlands.

With a price tag of $92 million, the Bluff Road option also would cost the state $3 million less than the 3000 West option.

Jeffries said that while impacts to businesses and residences is essentially the same, the new design means new and different people would be affected.

He urges Syracuse residents to visit www.udot.utah.gov/westdavis to view detailed maps of the changes.

UDOT hopes to complete a draft environmental impact statement on the road in the summer. Once that is complete, UDOT will submit the report to the Federal Highway Administration.

A final route decision is expected next year.

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