FARMINGTON -- The Davis County Council of Governments has voted unanimously to stand firm for the westernmost route for the proposed Legacy Highway.
In doing so, the council, which is made up of the county commissioners and the mayors within the county, again rejected an alignment that would intrude on the cities' development space but destroy fewer wetlands.The action last week was a response to the Utah Department of Transportation's environmental impact study.
The response also will state that COG favors an additional highway to other means of meeting future transportation needs such as expanding I-15 or relying on public transportation.
The response asks for additional UDOT study of social and economic impacts that will be created by the highway.
"We all know what the growth rates are . . . particularly in the next 15 to 20 years," said Wilf Sommerkorn, administrator to the council.
"There are a lot of things that need to be done. The Legacy highway is only one of those demands."
Sommerkorn said should I-15 be expanded to meet the increased transportation needs, it would have to be 10 lanes, which would be dangerous.
"To say that the (Legacy) highway is not needed is ignoring what's out there," he said.
Although the western alternative paves at least 45 more acres of Great Salt Lake wetlands than a possible route nearer the cities, the council insisted it remains the best option for the environment.
The mayors said the loss in wetlands would be more than offset by preserving 1,600 acres from development west of the highway.
"What's 45 acres?" asked Centerville Mayor Frank Hirschi. "Very, very small."
Environmentalists and waterfowl hunters fighting the alignment insist the real damage is more than just 45 acres. They say 1,000 wetland acres to the east would be choked off from the rest of the ecosystem.
The Army Corps of Engineers, which enforces the federal Clean Water Act restrictions of wetlands destruction, maintains that the western alignment appears illegal because a less-damaging alternative is available.