East or west? That was the question pondered this week by the Farmington City Council and Planning Commission in a joint session as members got a first look at possible alignments for the proposed Western Transportation Corridor through west Davis County.
The alignment through Farmington is critical because the city is a choke point, the narrowest stretch the corridor will have to negotiate between the Great Salt Lake and I-15, according to traffic engineer John Thomas, with the consulting firm of Parsons Brinckerhoff.The proposals range from bringing the corridor as far east as possible, running it parallel and adjacent to I-15, to swinging it out west to the eastern shore of Antelope Island with a system of causeways.
The Antelope Island route and one shown bisecting Farmington Bay on a causeway appear to have little chance, Thomas admitted, because of wetland preservation and cost considerations.
Other routes include following the existing utility lines along the edge of the Great Salt Lake, using the D&RG Railroad right-of-way through the area, and the one suggested by some council members, par-al-leling I-15.
The bulk of the commuter traffic on I-15 south of Farmington feeds in from U.S. 89 from the north end of the county, Councilman Larry Haugen pointed out. Unless the new highway can connect to that route, very little of that traffic will move onto the new commuter link.
The council and planning commission are also concerned about building another major north-south highway through the city, already cut into segments by the freeway and U.S. 89.
The city's master plan calls for keeping the area west of the freeway as semi-rural.
"I don't think we can tolerate having three major highways converge in Farmington," Councilman Gary Elliott said. "The city is already badly divided as it is and that will only make access even harder."
Davis County Public Works Director Sid Smith spoke in favor of a western corridor following the utility lines along the edge of the Great Salt Lake. The highway could act as a buffer or barrier to help preserve the wetlands to the west, Smith suggested.
Several council members appeared to favor that suggestion if commercial development along the corridor is prohibited.
"I can envision that as a wonderful, scenic drive with wetlands along both sides of it, if we can keep it from turning into another Bangerter Highway," Councilwoman Pat Achter said.
The council and planning commission members split about evenly, half favoring pushing the corridor as far west as possible, with the others liking the idea of the new highway hugging the I-15 route.
Parsons Brinckerhoff is studying corridor routes that would combine a new highway, rail lines and utility easements to connect Weber and the west side of Salt Lake County.
The $600,000 study is scheduled to be completed this fall.