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PLAN TO EXTEND BOULEVARD IS BACK AGAIN

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The proposal to extend Bountiful Boulevard into Salt Lake City, a plan that has risen and fallen numerous times in recent years, is rising again.

Last week, Bountiful city officials made their case to the state Transportation Commission for the ribbon of road that would extend from Bountiful Boulevard, wrap around the west side of Ensign Peak and connect with northern Salt Lake roads. The week before Bountiful officials went before Utah Department of Transportation staffers.They are cautiously optimistic that this time their pleas will be heard.

"I think (the presentation) went very well," Bountiful City Engineer Jack Balling said. "I was very pleased."

Where just a few weeks ago Balling didn't have much hope for the project, he now gives it a "50-50" chance of getting funding within the next two legislative sessions. Senate President Lane Beattie, R-West Bountiful, for one, is a strong proponent of the plan.

"It's a critical issue," he said. "The people in my district are sick and tired of traffic tie-ups." When asked if he was optimistic or pessimistic about the proposal's chances, Beattie said he was "realistic."

The issue started with a 1963 UDOT-commissioned study recommending eventual construction of a parkway around the east bench of Bountiful and around the mountain. Until recently, planners thought to run it above and feed it into the Salt Lake Capitol Hill and Avenues neighborhoods as far as the University of Utah.

Predictably, Capitol Hill residents didn't think much of having a lot more traffic filtering through their residential streets and have so far successfully opposed the new road, with the Salt Lake City Council firmly behind them.

The landscape may have changed somewhat with the results of a $50,000 parkway feasibility study, completed last January. This time, planners want to hook the southern end of the parkway on to Victory Road, Beck Street or 400 West instead of wrapping it all the way around the mountain.

The option being talked about a lot nowadays is bringing the parkway underneath Victory Road and terminating it at an intersection adjacent to the Children's Museum of Utah, where 400 West curves east and hooks into 300 West. That would make 300 West the arterial road into Salt Lake, said Tim Boschert of the Wasatch Front Regional Council.

But even 300 West would badly affect residential areas, said Capitol Hill Community Council Chairman Eric Jergensen. Bountiful officials have touted the fact that the extension would prevent residents of Bountiful's east side from having to drive through residential neighborhoods to I-15, but Jergensen said drivers would just be going through his neighborhood instead.

In addition, many opponents, including House Minority Leader Frank Pignanelli who lives in the Capitol Hill area, say the project's anticipated $14.5 million cost vastly outweighs its benefits.

The Salt Lake City Council passed a resolution last August rejecting the Bountiful Boulevard extension in favor of the proposed West Davis Highway, and Mayor Deedee Corradini is adamantly opposed to the eastern route given its impact on Capitol Hill residents.

"I totally disagree with it," she said. "I feel very very strongly about protecting that neighborhood - you can't have a city survive without strong residential neighborhoods, (and) that is one of our best."

Beattie maintains that the extension route is needed even if the West Davis Highway goes through, which he has his doubts about. But until Salt Lake City signs on to the proposal, which isn't likely, proponents face a real uphill battle.

"In order for it really to be reality there would have to be some agreement between all the communities involved," UDOT Director Tom Warne said. "There are a lot of gates to go through before it happens."

Though Bountiful has done the heavy lifting in support of the road, North Salt Lake is in its camp.

"We simply can't go further south in (the eastern Eaglewood) development until there's additional access," said Mayor Clare Jones, adding that hundreds of developable acres would be opened up by the new route.