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Put public first in traffic solution

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In life, many daily occurrences make sense and many take faith. The sun will rise tomorrow, I will be the best parent possible, and A=B, B=C, therefore A=C. Simple enough? Not in the Utah Department of Transportaion and Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) textbooks.

There needs to be a traffic-relief solution for the growing south end of the Salt Lake Valley. True. Increasing numbers of people need to move east and west at the south end of the Salt Lake Valley. True. We need to build an interchange at 11400 South, close the existing State/I-15 flyover, increase 11400 South from two to five lanes between State and Redwood Road, erect a bridge over the Jordan River in a currently protected wetlands area and level numerous houses. False.

I am not arguing that there isn't a need for improved traffic flow in the south end of the valley but that FHWA and UDOT have not followed due process in planning and managing this project. In public record there are numerous examples of impropriety, such as selecting a contractor solely due to the fact that he was the only one who promised to find no significant impact with the proposed plan; concluding that there was no significant impact although the Army Corps of Engineers has directly stated there will be; and considering only a "build vs. no-build" when alternatives were directly mentioned in an official memo.

Further, when they performed their "study," they did not take into consideration the widening of 10600 South, the widening of 12300 South, the completion of Bangerter, the success of TRAX, and/or the new frontage road. And all of this ignores the fact that placing yet another interchange within a 2-mile span where the freeway narrows will cause more traffic via "lane-weave" rather than alleviate it.

The 10th Circuit Court of Appeals puts into place emergency injunctions in extremely few cases. In even more rare instances they take over the whole case rather than send it back to the originating judge (after issuing an injunction prior to trial). They did the prior last month and the latter just last week. Those who are knowledgeable about how UDOT and FHWA have "handled" this proposed project were dumbfounded when Judge Tena Campbell denied the temporary restraining order that would cease construction until our day in court but do understand why the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals has elected to take the case in its entirety and not send it back to the federal court. This action alone speaks volumes.

Now is a great time to ignore politics, re-evaluate the options and develop the most efficient solution. Sure the Wal-Marts, Sam's Clubs, and Home Depots of the world need to be taken into consideration, but their interest should be secondary to that of the public as a whole. We don't need a $37 million driveway for their interests; what we need is a logical and effective traffic flow reduction solution. There are interchanges and overpasses that need attention right now, so why push a "solution" that is arguable even in the eyes of our court system?

As a plaintiff against the project as well as a member of the Lochner/Wadsworth/UDOT 11400 South Citizen Advisory Board, I truly believe that now is the time to sit everyone down and get it done right.

Matt Arnett of South Jordan is a plaintiff in a lawsuit aimed at stopping construction of the overpass and serves on the Lochner/Wadsworth/UDOT 11400 South Citizen Advisory Board.