Facebook Twitter

Legacy Parkway hits new pothole — a delay in dissolving injunction

SHARE Legacy Parkway hits new pothole — a delay in dissolving injunction

The Legacy Parkway is stuck in court once again.

After a 75-minute court hearing Thursday, U.S. District Judge Bruce Jenkins denied a motion by the state to lift the injunction placed on Legacy in 2001 by the U.S. Court of Appeals in Denver.

Jenkins said Thursday that he had no power to dissolve the injunction, despite arguments from the state that authority to do so had been remanded back to his jurisdiction. His decision means a March 2 groundbreaking for Legacy could be postponed as the state will now need to approach the Court of Appeals to lift the injunction.

"It's nice to have people come in and say, 'We did what we were supposed to do,' " Jenkins said. "But the fundamental question for me is, how am I in a position to vacate an order of the Court of Appeals?"

He continued: "I would genuinely like to be helpful, but I'm troubled by the whole process."

Officials with the Utah Department of Transportation were disappointed with the ruling but said the state will move on and file a new motion with the Court of Appeals. It means more legal fees and delay on construction, but ultimately the injunction will be lifted and the road built, said Carlos Braceras, UDOT deputy director.

State attorney Margaret Strand said she didn't anticipate any challenges to stop the Court of Appeals from lifting the injunction. A motion will be filed next week, but a ruling by the often slow-to-respond court could take weeks.

"We're a little disappointed that it didn't happen today, but we're confident with another court filing the injunction will be dissolved," Strand said.

Lifting the injunction is the last step in a decadelong fight to get Legacy built.

Planning for the 14-mile road from North Salt Lake to Farmington began in 1996. In 2001, environmental groups filed suit to halt construction. Jenkins heard the case and dismissed the suit but was overturned by the Court of Appeals in Denver. The appeals court issued an injunction and asked that the road be restudied for environmental impact.

Last year, that supplemental study was finished. In November, the state signed a landmark settlement agreement that forbid plaintiffs from suing again. And this January, UDOT received two federal approvals needed to begin construction.

Lawmakers who helped negotiate the settlement said Thursday's ruling won't thwart the process of getting Legacy built. But local officials urged the state to push for a quick — and final — resolution.

"Residents see this as almost the Holy Grail of roads," Davis County Commissioner Dannie McConkie said. "It means a lot to a lot of people."

E-mail: nwarburton@desnews.com