The slower, quieter days of Legacy Parkway will officially end at the beginning of the year.
The Utah Department of Transportation announced Friday that the speed limit on Legacy Parkway will be raised to 65 mph and that large semi-tractor trailers will be allowed to use the 14-mile stretch of road on Jan. 1, 2020.
Finished in September 2008, the parkway features a quiet road surfaces and a billboard ban, in addition to a 55 mph speed limit and the ban on large trucks. Those features 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.
However, the agreement includes a statue in which the truck prohibition will automatically expire on Jan. 1, 2020. The Utah Legislature did not extend the prohibition during the 2019 legislative session, despite lobbying efforts from citizens and environmental groups.
With the expiration of the statue, UDOT Traffic and Safety Director Robert Miles said the state agency has no authority to keep large semitrailers off the roadway, “so that change just automatically happens.”
UDOT decided to raise the speed limit on Legacy Parkway as speed studies show drivers are already averaging speeds of 65 and 70 mph despite the set 55 mph limit. The parkway was designed to handle higher speeds; Miles said it is “safe and comfortable” to drive at 65 mph.
By raising the speed limit, Mile said UDOT hopes “to eliminate the safety risk of speed discrepancy, which can happen when you have a significant difference between the speed most drivers are actually traveling and those who are driving the posted speed limit.”
The four-lane Davis County road also features no street crossings and protected nature preserve near the wetlands of the Great Salt Lake.