First, the state reduced school busing a few years ago and ended up costing cities thousands of dollars in new sidewalks and crossing guards. Now its latest cost-savings proposal is considering giving cities jurisdiction and maintenance over many state highways.
"It's a big issue," Layton Mayor Jerry Stevenson told the City Council at a recent meeting. "How do we get the funding to make this all come together?"Layton officials believe they would be in much better shape than many cities if some roads are actually ever transferred from the state. That's because all the state-maintained roads in Layton are in good shape now, having been resurfaced in recent years. The city also has more resources and equipment than many cities.
"Some cities don't own a shovel," Stevenson said.
He believes the road transfers would easily double the amount of asphalt for which some other Davis County cities, like Fruit Heights, Sunset and South Weber, would be responsible.
Given Layton's recent success in both efficiency and speed in being a special UDOT contractor to widen a portion of Antelope Drive, Stevenson said Layton could probably make such a plan work.
However, he also fears the impact of the loss of hundreds of UDOT jobs.
Councilman Brent Allen believes cities need an ongoing, new revenue stream if they are to inherit former state roads. A one-lump payment isn't good enough.
Hill Field Road (U-232), Oak Hills Drive and Antelope Drive are three of the five roads being considered for transfer that Layton officials said they'd likely accept.
However, U-193 on the city's north side and Main Street (U-126) are two roads the city doesn't want from UDOT.
U.S. 89 is proposed by the state to remain under its control.
Layton public works director Terry Coburn said having just the three roads would put a big burden on city resources.
Stevenson said it makes no sense why some roads would even be considered for transfer to the city.
Council Stuart Adams agreed and said the multi-jurisdictional nature of some roads, like Main Street, would make it a nightmare for winter drivers. That's because snowplow crews would have to turn around at city lines, leaving drivers to wait for other cities to clear paths onward.
One bright spot to a possible road inheritance by cities is more local control. Layton police chief Doyle Talbot said if Layton had jurisdiction over some state roads, it would be able to adjust speed limits more easily. He would welcome that freedom.
As it is now, UDOT sets speed limits and the city lives with them. For example, the speed limit on Layton's north Main Street is 45 mph, while it's only 40 mph on the south end - despite more pedestrian crossings and businesses on the north end.