LAYTON -- To extend or not to extend -- that's the question.
In early August it would have been entirely possible for a Top of Utah resident to walk into two public transportation meetings and hear two different ideas about an extension of the Legacy Parkway.
Both the Utah Department of Transportation and the Wasatch Front Regional Council held meetings during the first week of August and both organizations featured the idea of extending Legacy Parkway.
UDOT is currently working on a multiyear study of the West Davis Corridor, which will determine a solution to fit transportation needs in the western portion of Weber County and in Davis County in the year 2040.
The study area encompasses all developable land west of Interstate 15 from 12th Street in Ogden to Parrish Lane in Centerville.
The state recently identified four road extensions of the Legacy Parkway that all run on the west side of Interstate 15 and could fit those needs, but has also mapped out several east-west corridors and public transit options in the West Davis Corridor Environmental Impact Statement study.
The four roads include an alternative, identified in a 2001 study, that runs along Bluff Road. There is also an alignment that runs east of Bluff Road essentially following the power lines, one that parallels the FrontRunner railroad tracks and one that runs along the edge of the county and Great Salt Lake.
For more information, look at the study at www.utah.gov/westdavis.
"We're still looking at every option at this point," said UDOT project manager Randy Jeffries. "We've still got quite a way to go on this."
While the state maintains that an extension of Legacy will not necessarily be the option to come out of the study, the Wasatch Front Regional Council, the state's transportation planning arm, has made it clear that it should.
WFRC spokesman Sam Klemm reported in the West Davis Corridor study that the area population will double in only 20 years.
As a result of that growth, the WFRC thinks extending Legacy northward, making it a viable north-south alternative to I-15, is the best solution to ensure regional mobility.
"We are very aware and firm in our belief that the population will boom," Klemm said. "We think a road (extension) is needed, but we can't force UDOT to build it. A recommendation doesn't mean a road."
Jeffries said the two organizations work together, but ultimately UDOT has final say about which projects get built.
"They (WFRC) have identified a four-lane facility and a location for it and we are taking that into consideration," he said. "But they don't do any of the environmental clearance for the project. We have to put everything under the magnifying glass before it happens."
Along with the WFRC's belief that an extension is needed, Davis County has also purchased several properties along a route in western Davis County that were identified in a 2001 study by the WFRC as the preferred alternative for the extension of the parkway.
Klemm said whatever happens with the West Davis Corridor study, with the expected population boom, some kind of transportation or transit solution in the area is a must.
"You've heard the saying, 'if you build it, they will come,'" he said. "Well, in this case if you don't build it, they will still come."