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Despite concerns, Parkway needed

SHARE Despite concerns, Parkway needed

The Sierra Club is right when it says that simply building a new highway is not going to solve transportation problems caused by urban sprawl in the Salt Lake Valley, specifically the area between Salt Lake City and southern Davis County.

The Sierra Club has targeted the Legacy Highway/Parkway proposal in a national campaign, claiming it represents a "concrete mentality." The thinking is that — to take a line from the film "Field of Dreams" — if you build it, they will come. The influx of more people and traffic will simply increase air pollution and urban sprawl, the club claims.

That's true. But whether the Legacy Parkway — a proposed four-lane highway that would parallel I-15 for 12 miles from Salt Lake City to Farmington — is built or not, there are going to be a lot more cars and people in the targeted area.

The influx of people is expected to triple along the Wasatch Front in the next 50 years, going from 1.8 million to an estimated 5 million. At present, only I-15 serves as a major artery linking Davis County to Salt Lake City. Any kind of an accident creates a terrible bottleneck for commuters. Even without an accident, traffic comes to a virtual standstill along the Farmington-North Salt Lake stretch during peak travel times.

Of course, alternative forms of transportation such as commuter rail and light rail are needed to help alleviate the burdens on the roadways. But while Salt Lake County light rail has provided a good start to public transportation needs, such a system is not feasible, at least not for quite a while, in Davis County.

Commuter rail, which needs to be developed to assist Davis County travelers, cannot by itself provide enough transportation relief.

The Legacy Parkway, as this page has previously stated, needs to be part of an overall comprehensive transportation plan that addresses the needs of residents for the next 50 years.

The sooner the Legacy Parkway can be built, the better. As previously noted, Davis County needs more than one major artery linking it to Salt Lake City.

The Legacy Parkway is just the first leg of the proposed 120-mile Legacy Highway that would run from Brigham City to Nephi, providing much-needed relief from I-15 congestion.

The concerns raised by the Sierra Club are legitimate. Adding more asphalt to the landscape and paving over a number of acres of wetlands to do so is serious business. But then, so are the transportation needs of the affected residents. In the case of the Legacy Parkway, it's warranted.