FARMINGTON — For the past decade, motorists have come to expect a certain experience on Davis County’s Legacy Parkway.
But that could start to change in a little more than a year.
When construction on the Parkway was completed in September 2008, the structure represented a dynamic shift in how arterial roads in Utah could be built — a modern parkway that featured slower speeds, a quiet road surface, a large truck and billboard ban, a 14-mile continuous trail with no street crossings and a protected nature preserve near the wetlands of the Great Salt Lake.
Those items were required by a settlement agreement that was reached by the state and citizen activist groups in 2005 after a lawsuit halted construction on the parkway in 2001.
“It’s really something unique — especially for Utah,” said Roger Borgenicht, co-chair of Utahns for Better Transportation, a grassroots group dedicated to promoting balanced transportation choices that protect the environment and quality of life along the Wasatch Front. “It’s not a freeway driving experience. It’s more relaxed, more peaceful than your average commute on I-15.”
But some of the things that make the parkway different and more serene than the nearby interstate — the 55 mph speed limit and the large truck and billboard prohibition — could cease to be starting in 2020.
“The legal document says all of that could expire by 2020,” said UBT co-chair Ann Floor. “Everything is going to be discussed and possibly finalized during the 2019 legislative session.”
The Utah Legislature previously implemented a statute in which the truck prohibition will automatically sunset on Jan. 1, 2020. No such clause exists for the speed limit and the billboards, but legally, the Utah Department of Transportation could ax those restrictions as well.
Borgenicht and Floor are working with citizens and city officials from around Davis County to make people aware of the impending changes. Right now, there’s no solid plan to extend the time frame for any of the restrictions, though cities like Farmington and Woods Cross have passed resolutions urging the legislature to remove the truck sunset clause.
The movement now, Borgenicht and Floor say, is essentially about awareness.
“Almost no one knows of these changes that could be coming,” Borgenicht said. “Maybe one person out of 100, probably less. We’ve been tracking it because we were involved with the lawsuit and all the negotiations, but the general public, I don’t think they know what could be coming.”
Floor said she’s heard rumblings that the state even has plans to expand the road at some point, adding a new lane in each direction.
UDOT spokesman Vic Saunders said no such project exists on the immediate horizon and such work would require another lengthy round of environmental work by the state.
“That would require a full environmental review process,” he said. “So we’d have to do that first before any new construction.”
Saunders said UDOT’s focus will be on improving I-15 as 2020 nears. The parkway settlement agreement also included stipulations that prevented UDOT from rebuilding or doing any large expansions on I-15 until 2020.
“Legacy won’t really be the priority at that point (other than possibly releasing the restrictions),” Saunders said. “I-15 is going to be our focus because it’s basically been held hostage for a number of years.”
Sometime in 2019, UDOT plans to begin a project that would add a new lane to both north and southbound I-15 between Hill Field Road in Layton and Interstate 84 near the Riverdale/Ogden border. The project is expected to take two years to complete.