Legacy Parkway residents are fighting to protect a cherished Utah roadway. In the face of opposing forces, they’re not giving up.
When North Salt Lake resident Angie Keeton recently learned that large trucks could soon be allowed on Legacy Parkway, a road located about 800 feet from her home in the city’s Foxboro neighborhood, she was more than alarmed. Construction of homes in Foxboro began in 2003, five years before Legacy opened. Since that time, Foxboro has expanded along the parkway and is now home to hundreds of families who enjoy the tranquil features of the road, including its ban on large trucks. Removing the ban would forever degrade the quality of life enjoyed by the families who live along the parkway by exacerbating the already poor air quality, adding to noise pollution, and increasing safety concerns, especially with so many children living and going to school there.
Keeton first heard about the potential lifting of the ban from news reports on the State of Utah’s plan to build an “inland port” in Salt Lake City’s northwest quadrant near the Salt Lake International Airport. Allowing large trucks on Legacy’s 11-mile stretch of road between Farmington on the north end and I-215 at the south, could provide a direct route for trucks through south Davis County to I-80 and out to the port’s site. The ban on large trucks on the parkway is set to expire on Jan. 1, 2020.
The truck ban was part of a settlement agreement in a lawsuit filed and won by environmental groups against the Utah Department of Transportation (UDOT) before construction of Legacy began. After UDOT completed its required environmental studies, the final Record of Decision (ROD), issued by the Federal Highway Administration, included that the road would be built as a parkway rather than a freeway. Context-sensitive design amenities would include a meandering road design, noise-reducing pavement, slower speeds, and a ban on billboards and large trucks. It also includes the Legacy Trail and Legacy Nature Preserve. The ROD states that these amenities “would be retained beyond 2020, but UDOT could consider the need to raise the posted speed limit and allow large trucks at that time.”
After checking with her neighbors on Facebook, Keeton found that roughly 90 percent of them were not aware of the impermanent nature of the truck ban. She got to work and organized a public meeting for Jan. 16. Sen. Todd Weiler, R-Woods Cross, Rep. Melissa Garff Ballard, R-North Salt Lake, Rep. Ray Ward, R-Bountiful, Bryce Bird, director of the Utah Division of Air Quality, and Jason Davis, UDOT’s deputy director of operations and maintenance listened to the concerns of the more than 250 residents who showed up.
In assessing the crowd, Rep. Ballard asked those in favor of keeping the truck ban to stand. Every person but one stood up. Residents reported over and over again that when they bought their homes, no one told them large trucks could be allowed on Legacy in the future.
During this past legislative session, Sen. Weiler introduced SB 119 in the Senate Transportation Committee to keep the truck ban in place until July 1, 2022, but it failed, receiving just one vote.
Rep. Ballard then submitted her bill — HB 339 — in the House Transportation Committee, with 18 co-sponsors asking for the truck ban to be retained for five years to allow time to explore options. Support for her bill also came from the mayors and city councils of Farmington, Woods Cross, North Salt Lake, and Centerville, along with the Davis County Council of Governments, all of whom signed resolutions to keep the truck ban in place. The bill lost in a 6-5 vote which, although a loss, almost felt like a win and could be seen as evidence of growing support to keep the ban.
“It’s unique. Legacy was a smart solution to growth and transportation issues that took into account the space around it and how valuable it is to residents and commuters alike,” says Keeton. “With its Legacy Trail and Nature Preserve, the parkway has set a new precedent for how people want to live here. It’s a great success that should not be thrown away.”
Rep. Ballard will host a community ideas session— open to everyone — with legislators, city leaders, and UDOT representatives to identify next steps from 7-9 p.m. on Wednesday, March 20, at Foxboro Elementary, 587 Foxboro Drive, in North Salt Lake. Please come. Your input matters.
Some of the information in this op-ed was taken from an article published in the March 2019 issue of Catalyst magazine. Find more information at www.savelegacyparkway.org.