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Environmentalists seek alternatives to proposed bridge over Utah Lake

PROVO — Western Utah County residents may have two future options to travel east: over land or over water.

About 25 people from the Utah Lake Sailing Club, including representatives from the Sierra Club and the Utah Lake Commission, met in the Utah Lake State Park visitors center Thursday night to discuss alternatives to a proposed bridge over Utah Lake.

Marc Heileson, western representative for the Sierra Club, detailed two plans that Utah County could use for future development: the Los Angeles automobile-dependent, suburban sprawl model; or a Portland, Ore., mass-transit model.

"Residents can still use cars, but they have other transportation options," Heileson said. "Do we choose that or sprawl with a bridge that leads to nowhere?"

Plus, two major high-speed routes are nearing completion on the lake's western side. Pioneer Crossing, which is halfway completed, will connect Saratoga Springs with Lehi via a five-lane thoroughfare. Mountain View Corridor, which will connect Salt Lake County with western Utah County, begins construction in the late spring or early summer of 2010.

"Salt Lake County has 70 ways to get east and west," said Reed Price, director of the Utah Lake Commission. "Currently, we have two."

Price said the Utah Lake Commission has not yet come to a recommendation, nor is it rushing to reach one.

Members of the sailing club were in agreement with Heileson, preferring plans that would not affect the lifestyle and environment surrounding Utah Lake.

"The reaction was very typical," said Todd Frye, director of the Bonneville School of Sailing and Seamanship. "There are a lot of deep emotions associated with the lake."

The $600 million proposed bridge would run from 800 North in Orem southwest across the lake to Pelican Point. Developers plan to charge a $3 toll each way.

"Toll roads are doing horribly, even where they're convenient," Heileson said. "If we do develop out there, do it in a smart way."

Bob Grieve of Midway agreed with Heileson and his ideas.

"Not every development is a good idea," Grieve said. "And not every idea is a good idea."