On a clear day you can see to the edge of the highway

Aug 13 2012 - 6:10pm

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Charles Trentelman
Charles Trentelman

Anne Hunsinger drove to the Standard-Examiner from Layton because she's 68 and wanted to give someone a piece of her mind.

That's what I like about becoming an older person. When you have something to say, you say it. Anne not only wanted to say something, she wanted it in the newspaper.

We had a delightful chat.

"Do you know those walls they build along the highway to keep the sound out?" she said.

I do indeed. They are sound walls designed to hide the noise of I-15 from neighboring homes and businesses. UDOT has built them for years, but they really got aggressive ahead of the 2002 Olympic Games.

So many went up that driving I-15 was compared to riding a sled down Park City's luge track. Someone even made a commemorative pin.

I detest them. They make you feel locked in while driving, and it is cruelly ironic that UDOT decorated the walls with images of the mountains you can no longer see because of the walls.

Anne agrees. "I just drove up from Layton and all you see is the walls, you can't see the petticoats of Utah," Anne said.

Petticoats?

She turned and pointed at the mountains out our front window where the subdivisions of North Ogden creep up the foothills.

Those foothills are Utah's petticoats, she said and explained that, when she was younger, women sometimes wore multicolored petticoats under their dresses. The lacy bottoms of the petticoats showed as the women walked and were considered decorative and, yes, fun to look at.

Nowdays, she said, anywhere she drives in Davis County "you just see the walls and you can't see the petticoats of Utah."

She recounted how years ago she'd be driving home "and just before Lagoon on the right side, near Farmington, there was a little house and every year the door was a different color. I liked to look for that door, and now you can't."

Sound walls are everywhere. Going north from Ogden you have to get past Plain City before you can catch a view of the Wasatch Front's magnificent mountains, and what's the point of going for a drive if you can't see the mountains?

Blocking off, or otherwise sundering, the view has more than just aesthetic ramifications. Utah's national draw has always been its gorgeous scenery, but Utah doesn't seem to know this.

The Outdoor Retailers Association recently told Gov. Gary Herbert to back off on trying to open Utah's federal lands to developers. The association folk backed this demand with a threat to take their very lucrative biannual expo somewhere else.

I just heard Ogden/Weber Chamber President Dave Hardman tell a bunch of business entrepreneurs that Ogden's "brand" as an outdoor recreation spot is key to the community's success.

So we're selling the outdoors while we build developments that clog the outdoors and walls that hide the outdoors from everyone driving through?

Cars are noisy, but Anne and the Outdoor Retailers have a point.

Every new wall, every new development, blocks off a bit more of why we live in Utah.

"The more modern we get, the less we are allowed to enjoy what we have," she said. "Coming in (to Ogden) on the freeway I can't see the stockyards any more, or where the cattle were."

Or Ben Lomond. Or Mount Ogden. Or Antelope Island.

She waved at the mountains that can still be seen outside the Standard's front door, and said "be sure to enjoy the petticoats."

The Wasatch Rambler is the opinion of Charles Trentelman. He can be reached at 801-625-4232, or ctrentelman@standard.net. He also blogs at www.standard.net.

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