WEST HAVEN, Weber County — Around here, the Legacy Highway's established route isn't necessarily the Legacy Highway's established route.
In fact, the Legacy Highway isn't necessarily the Legacy Highway.
Of the three counties impacted by the proposed Legacy Highway to ease commuter congestion into Salt Lake County from parts north, Salt Lake is reluctant, Davis is gung-ho and Weber is ambivalent. Yes, we'll probably need something in the future, the thinking goes there, but it's 20 or 30 years down the road and maybe this huge multicounty project isn't the answer.
The fact that Weber County doesn't have enough commuters into the Salt Lake area to justify the highway at present has something to do with it.
"If I had a clear picture of everything in the future, yes, but it's real hard to imagine," said Weber County Commissioner Glen Burton. "But if we don't use that vision, we'll end up behind the curve like Davis County is now."
Davis County commuters daily choke I-15, and the situation there is projected to get worse before it gets better — well, in fact it will never get better. And as the greater Salt Lake population spreads, Weber County also is slated to house increasingly more commuters to the Salt Lake Valley.
So, yes, Weber County has to do something about it. What exactly has been and will be done is a bit of a gray area.
Take West Haven, a bucolic farming community on the west side of Weber County. The city has responded to the Wasatch Front Regional Council's request to put the Legacy Highway's route on 5100 West on its general plan. But while it's there on the plan, it really isn't. Consider this statement by city planner Steve Anderson:
"We do show it, but we're standing firm on, 'no, we did not accept that as the corridor.' "
If you're confused, join the club. West Haven City Councilman Ron Schultz (who happens to live on 5100 West) made a presentation before the Weber County Commission Tuesday emphasizing that his city has not decided where it wants the Legacy Highway to go, no matter what the map says, and in fact doesn't want it at all. Burton tried to pin Schultz down on where West Haven wants the highway but without success.
As far as the commission is concerned, while not totally sold on the Legacy Highway concept, it nevertheless wants to figure out the route.
"We just need to know where it's going in West Haven so we can know what to do in the unincorporated areas," said Commissioner Camille Cain.
But the confusion reaches deeper. The multilane superhighway Davis County envisions as Legacy probably won't occur in Weber, being reduced there to a briskly moving arterial street, nothing more. In fact, said Weber Commission Chairman Ken Bischoff, he would rather not call it "Legacy" at all, given the images that word often conjures up.
"What we're looking at is the development of arterials," he said. " 'Legacy' makes people think of a highway."
In other words, it's Legacy, but it isn't. It's going in on 5100 South, but it isn't. In light of the near continuous conflicts surrounding the west-side corridor, Schultz explains the conundrum this way:
"It's political. The route is political. What we need to do is decide on the best thing to do without the politics."