Davis commission amends corridor support letter after reaction
Wednesday , September 11, 2013 - 6:23 AM
FARMINGTON — Rather than clarifying its position on the West Davis Corridor study through emails and the spoken word, the Davis County Commission on Tuesday instead issued a whole new amended letter of support for the work that has gone into the proposed roadway project.
The amended letter was issued after the commission’s original Aug. 27 letter of support resulted in some consternation, because it specifically mentioned a few roads in Davis County the commission said could serve as access points to the proposed north-south 20-mile west Davis highway.
A bullet point in the Aug. 27 letter specifically mentioned “an access point be programmed on Clark Lane or Shepherd Lane to give access to the regional development of Station Park.”
“We had a few emails,” Davis County Commissioner John Petroff Jr. said of the original letter that stirred emotions the commission did not intend to stir.
“We didn’t have any preferences for the corridor,”Petroff said of the Aug. 27 letter directed at supporting the process the Utah Department of Transportation was going through to reach its final preferred alignment.
The new, amended version makes no mention of the Farmington streets.
“In addition to acknowledging our support, we encourage UDOT to work with local municipalities to allow for adequate on- and off-ramp access points throughout the county,” the commissioner’s amended letter reads.
“Our intent was to write a letter of support for the process,” Davis County Commissioner Louenda Downs said.
The first letter issued by the commission also specifically mentioned as an access point State Road 193, which runs east to west along the Layton/Clearfield border. That road reference was also cut from the amended version.
The commission will now forward its amended letter of support to the state to make it a permanent part of the environmental impact study process.
After receiving a record number of messages about the West Davis Corridor, UDOT extended its public comment period on the controversial road through Sept. 6.
UDOT’s preferred alternative for the road is a 20-mile, $587 million extension of Legacy Parkway that would weave its way through western Davis County from Farmington to Clinton.
The state’s preferred route for the road would take 26 homes and five businesses and will have a direct impact on 110 acres of prime farmland.
But since the county commission issued its Aug. 27 letter of support for the process, the U.S. Interior Department has weighed in on the issue, stating in its own letter made known Sept. 4, that UDOT’s current proposed alignment for the West Davis Corridor will cause irreversible damage to Great Salt Lake wetlands.
The federal letter was sent to James Christian, administrator of the Federal Highway Administration’s Utah Division, and was signed by Interior Department Regional Environmental Officer Robert F. Stewart.
The letter was sent in August but was not publicly released until Sept. 4, when a group of opponents to the West Davis Corridor sent the letter to media outlets.
The Interior Department believes the alternative selected by UDOT and the Federal Highway Administration does not meet the “least environmentally damaging” criteria, as required by the Clean Water Act.
The Interior Department also noted that any construction will have major negative impacts to area wildlife.
The county commission in both of its letters supported the process UDOT has followed in trying to determine a preferred alignment, a roadway they claim is needed if the future growth of the county is to be addressed.
“As economic development, higher-density housing, an ever-increasing population with growing transportation demands, and simply growth in general continues to move upward, we see an imperative need for the development of an additional north-south transportation corridor,” Petroff said.
Contact reporter Bryon Saxton at 801-625-4244 or firstname.lastname@example.org, or follow him on Twitter at @BryonSaxton.