Congressman James Hansen, R-Utah, describes congested I-15 in central Davis County as the "biggest choke" in Utah and believes relieving that bottleneck should be the state's top highway priority.
Hansen, a Farmington resident, said he isn't against light rail for Salt Lake County but doesn't think the federal government is going to fund two large traffic projects. The state's going to have to choose one."Here's the dilemma: What does Utah want, light rail or the West Davis Highway?" he told the Clearfield City Council Tuesday.
Hansen has scheduled a meeting with Governor Mike Leavitt Aug. 29 and plans on telling him a West Davis highway to relieve I-15 congestion should be the state's No. 1 traffic priority.
He said while Salt Lake County has I-215, the Bangerter Highway and other alternate routes through the county, Davis County has only I-15.
"Salt Lake and Utah counties don't have the traffic problem we do . . . That's a horrible thing to drive," Hansen said of I-15 in Davis County.
He admits Utah Sens. Orrin Hatch and Bob Bennett may not have his same priority and likely favor light rail.
"I'll have to do some missionary work," he said, explaining light rail isn't bad - this is simply a matter of priorities.
He said the Utah Transit Authority isn't guaranteed light rail funding at this time, despite any claims to the contrary.
"I haven't seen the connection between light rail and the Olympics," Hansen said.
He pointed out that interstate travelers also have to travel I-15 in Davis County and so it's more than a county or state problem.
Hansen believes adding another lane to I-15 in Davis County would only be an interim solution, so he favors what some are now calling "The Western Transportation Corridor" (instead of the West Davis/
West Weber Highway).
Clearfield's mayor and council agreed with Hansen, who is asking all cities in Davis County to draft motions in support of a western highway in the county.
Councilman Martin Eliason said western Davis and Weber County is where the most vacant land is available.
"It would alleviate the east-west clog-ups too," he said of a western highway.