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State division allows competing bids for use of Utah Lake land

PROVO — Utah Crossing Inc. may not be alone in applying for use of land it wants to utilize to build a bridge across Utah Lake.

The Utah Division of Forestry, Fire and State Lands recently sent a letter to owners of land adjoining the corridor of land that crosses Utah Lake from Vineyard to north of Pelican Point, asking for competing bids.

"Interest has been generated for that piece of land, and the division … is opening that corridor of land for development proposals that align with the policies, goals and objectives of the Utah Lake Master Plan and the Division of Forestry, Fire and State Lands policy and rules," the letter states.

Forestry, Fire and State Lands official Dave Grierson said he is not aware of any other individuals or groups interested in building a lake crossing, but potential applicants do not have to use the whole corridor of land to apply.

All applications, including Utah Crossing's proposal, are due by noon March 31. They can be e-mailed to randykaufman@utah.gov.

In addition to proposals, applicants also must submit a $300 nonrefundable application fee and a $100 advertising deposit, Grierson said. The nonrefundable fee has been a policy for the past three years in an effort to make sure only serious applications are filed.

Proposed projects also must have solid financing options to be considered, Grierson said.

Leon Harward, president of Utah Crossing, said an offshore investment group already has agreed to finance the bridge, and the money would be in place before construction would begin.

After receiving applications, Forestry, Fire and State Lands officials will weigh them based on income potential, best use of the land and the ability of the applicant to follow through with the proposal.

"All development proposals should relate to the presence of the lake and its ecological systems and ensure that the lake's value as a recreational amenity is preserved and/or enhanced," the letter reads.

It also states that the Utah Lake Master Plan, created by the Utah Lake Commission, recognizes the importance of transportation for the communities around the lake for the future, and the commission has discussed crossings in the past.

Grierson said he is not sure how long it will take to evaluate the bids, but a decision is expected to be made by the end of the year.

e-mail: slenz@desnews.com