FARMINGTON -- Not that it needed any more fuel, but Utah Rep. Rob Bishop has thrown some gasoline on the fire that is the West Davis Corridor debate.
Bishop sent a letter last week to the U.S. Department of the Interior, blasting its formal opposition and criticism of the Utah Department of Transportation's preferred alternative for the corridor route.
"The analysis submitted by the department was distasteful, callous and wrong," Bishop said in the first paragraph of his letter.
"(It's) a one-sided analysis that is not consistent with Utah values and is flawed for many reasons."
In August, the Interior Department sent a letter to the Federal Highway Administration's Utah Division, saying it believed the alternative selected by UDOT and the FHWA does not meet the "least environmentally damaging" criteria, as required by the Clean Water Act.
Interior said that beginning the road at Shepard Lane in Farmington, instead of UDOT's current choice of Glovers Lane, would reduce damage to wetlands, but it also noted that any construction will have major negative impacts to area wildlife.
The department also said the state's draft environmental impact statement fails to address all of the potential environmental effects of the corridor project and doesn't make any substantive conclusions about what would likely result in permanent degradation of the habitat and the wildlife community.
Bishop said the state's locally crafted route better serves the growth needs of the Top of Utah, protects agricultural areas and safeguards the highest number of family homes.
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.
The state's preference for the road would take 26 homes and five businesses and would have a direct impact on 110 acres of prime farmland.
Bishop also said the Interior's quasi-endorsement of the Shepard Lane option shows the department's lack of understanding on the issue, noting that the Shepard Lane option would take a considerably higher number of homes.
"It's another example of Washington, D.C., thinking that 'D.C. knows best,'" Bishop said.
"If the department truly believes that more homes should be destroyed, then the department should be required to explain to the homeowners, face to face, why their homes are less important than a few acres of wetlands."
But as Bishop derided the Interior Department for being "an outsider in this process from the beginning," another entity, much closer to the issue, has also strongly opposed the current corridor plan.
Farmington city has also vehemently denounced UDOT's choice, saying there are substantial problems with the draft environmental impact statement on the road.
Farmington City Manager Dave Millheim said that, among other things, the current corridor plan threatens the city's intent to remain mostly rural, with some planned areas of functioning commercial development.
Millheim said the road, as currently planned, will injure the quality of life of Farmington residents, damage surrounding wildlife areas and create economic losses in the city.
Farmington has long pushed for the Shepard Lane option, saying many of its future businesses and transportation plans hinge on an interchange at Shepard Lane, not Glovers.
City officials say the Glovers Lane option will divert potential revenue from their Station Park retail center because the interchange creates corridor exits in Kaysville and Centerville instead of Farmington.
Contact reporter Mitch Shaw at 801-625-4233 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter at @mitchshaw23.