KAYSVILLE -- Transportation officials say the Top of Utah is growing like a weed, and the best way to accommodate that growth is through public transit.
Transit and growth were the topics of the day at the Davis County Chamber of Commerce's second semiannual Transportation Summit. The Wednesday summit featured business professionals and transportation leaders from across the region.
"Growth is coming," said Andrew Gruber, new executive director of the Wasatch Front Regional Council. "The statewide population will nearly double over the next 30 years."
According to studies conducted by the WFRC and Utah Department of Transportation, much of that growth will happen in the Top of Utah.
Statistics from UDOT's West Davis Corridor study state that the population in the area encompassing all developable land west of Interstate 15 from 12th Street in Ogden to Parrish Lane in Centerville will grow by 75 percent between now and 2040.
The same statistics say north-south congestion is projected to increase by 269 percent by 2040, while east-west congestion is projected to increase by 131 percent.
"If we keep doing what we've been doing," Gruber said, "this community won't sustain itself."
Gruber said that, by the time 2010 ends, Utahns will have traveled a total of 51 million miles in their vehicles. By 2040, the WFRC projects, that number will reach 90 million.
"Imagine what another 40 million miles will do to (the congestion of) your commute," he said.
Gruber said that, in the future, communities should focus on building walkable communities with many transit options and focus growth in areas where people already live.
"We can grow and preserve our quality of life in this region," Gruber said, "if we do it the right way."
Gruber said many capacity- improving transit projects exist on the WFRC's long-range plan, including possible streetcar systems in Ogden and southern Davis County, a transit network to service the Falcon Hill Development at Hill Air Force Base, and bus rapid-transit systems in Weber and Davis counties.
Utah Transit Authority Chief Executive Officer John Inglish said after public transit, another important step toward sustainability in the region is to develop a system of bike and pedestrian facilities.
"I think the next step is bike and pedestrian paths," Inglish said. "I'm talking safe and effective bike and pedestrian paths above the curb, where people can use them to get to transit options. That's a typical scene in other parts of the world."
Gary Peterson, chairman of the chamber's transportation committee, said there is one surefire way to tell when transit has made headway in a community.
"I think transit is successful when normal families can get rid of one of their two cars," he said. "We are getting to there, and we need to keep planning and pushing forward."