FARMINGTON -- The Utah Department of Transportation just bought acres of land worth millions of dollars in the path of the West Davis Corridor, yet the state's position on the road continues to be that nothing is final.
Last week, the Utah Transportation Commission approved the purchase of more than 167 acres of land worth $5.77 million at several locations scattered around Davis County.
The first property encompasses nearly 7 acres at 1773 W. 200 North in Kaysville. The land has been appraised at $718,500. The property is vacant and was owned by Malcolm, Ian and Nephi Harvey.
The second property the state has scooped up is nearly 30 acres between 1300 North and 800 North at approximately 4200 West in West Point. The land is worth $1.8 million and was owned by Mike Shultz and Hamblin Investments.
Another property is located at approximately 2000 W. Gentile St. in Syracuse. At nearly 100 acres, the land is valued at $1.37 million and was owned by Syracuse city, but was under contract with Brighton Homes and Irben Development.
The property has a preliminary plat approval for a cluster of homes.
"There are at least two dozen homes planned to be built under the corridor," said Lyle McMillan, UDOT director of right of way. "We'd like to prevent that from happening."
The last property the state has purchased sits at 3015 S. 2000 West in Syracuse. At 32 acres, the land was owned by Stonefield/Land Solutions and is worth $1.88 million.
And while UDOT says it plans to continue to gobble up properties along its preferred route for the controversial corridor, officials also maintain that buying the land does not indicate that a final decision has been made on the road.
UDOT Executive Director Carlos Braceras said the Federal Highway Administration will review the state's final environmental impact statement and then issue a record of decision on the road. Braceras said that final decision won't come until at least spring 2014.
"We're obviously in the middle of an EIS on this project," he said. "And the federal agencies that will be making the decision on this road -- first, if there is a need and then the location -- haven't selected a preferred alternative. We can't use these purchases to influence the outcome of this decision. If the decision is made that these properties aren't needed, we can sell these properties. This will not drive a decision on the environmental process."
UDOT's preferred alternative for the West Davis Corridor is a 20-mile, $587 million extension of Legacy Parkway that would weave its way through western Davis County.
The state's preference for the road would take 26 homes and five businesses and will have a direct impact on 110 acres of prime farmland.
Environmental and citizens groups, such as Utahns for Better Transportation, the Sierra Club and Friends of the Great Salt Lake, have come out against the road and have asked the state to undertake an additional study of an alternative-build solution that does not include a new road.
The U.S. Interior Department and Farmington city have also released letters denouncing the project.
Contact reporter Mitch Shaw at 801-625-4233 or email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter at @mitchshaw23.