Public support for the Legacy Parkway is growing, despite numerous court battles.
In a poll conducted by Dan Jones & Associates for the Utah Department of Transportation, 53 percent of those questioned said they strongly favor the Davis County bypass. Just 31 percent strongly favored the plan in 2001.
"To us it's obvious that the need continues to grow," said Tom Hudachko, a spokesman for UDOT. "The more and more time that goes by that we don't have the facility in place, the longer and longer the delay gets for commuters out there."
Respondents to the poll said traffic congestion along I-15 in Davis, Salt Lake and Utah counties is a bigger problem than it was two years ago.
Travel from Davis to Salt Lake County has increased over the past few years, Hudachko said. A traffic monitoring station on I-15 near the Bountiful/Centerville line counted 150,289 vehicles per day in 2002, up from 113,890 in 2000.
Construction on the 14-mile, four-lane project halted in late 2001 when the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals rejected federal approval.
The court ordered proponents of the plan to go back and re-evaluate multiple environmental issues, including:
Determining whether UDOT can realign the route or build the parkway in a manner that would impact a smaller amount of the Great Salt Lake wetlands.
Reviewing the old Denver & Rio Grande railroad corridor to see if the road could be constructed on that alignment.
Analyzing the sequence in which a commuter rail transit network could be constructed along with the parkway, in advance of rebuilding I-15.
Performing a more thorough assessment of the road's impact on wildlife.
A Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement is under way, Hudachko said. A team from UDOT, the Federal Highway Administration and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers will conclude their study by the end of this year or early 2005.
If all goes well, construction on the parkway could begin as early as next spring, Hudachko said.
"There are a lot of 'ifs,' " Hudachko said. "If there is no further litigation filed, we could hopefully, if everything goes right, we could be back by next construction season."
The $468 million price tag is worth the investment, said 78 percent of those polled. Three years ago, 63 percent said they believed the Legacy Parkway was worth the hefty investment.
The Utah Department of Transportation poll of 609 Davis, Salt Lake and Weber County residents was conducted in early 2004 and has a margin of error of plus or minus 5 percent.