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Group Starts Campaign Against Legacy Highway Settlement

Group Starts Campaign Against Legacy Highway Settlement



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FARMINGTON, Utah (AP) -- A group called Utahns for Safe and Efficient Transportation is starting a public campaign against the proposed settlement of the Legacy Parkway dispute.

An agreement in principle between the state and Legacy opponents, who successfully sued to stop construction pending an environmental re-evaluation, was signed in late September.

It provides limitations including a top speed of 55 mph, a narrower road and the exclusion of any semitrailer traffic unless Interstate 15 is closed for construction or in case of an emergency.

David Owen, a consultant who has coordinated USET, said the agreement sets precedent for poor policymaking.

"You have a very, very tiny minority of people in the vast pool of Utah voters, less than 2 percent, who oppose the road, while a much greater number than 2 percent is in favor of Legacy," he said.

"The question for policymakers is: Is it good public policy to let a little tiny sliver of voters determine the state's transportation policy?"

He said there are about six organizations signed up to help finance USET, and he is talking with another half a dozen.

State Sen. Sheldon Killpack, R-Syracuse, who has worked on the settlement, said, "The federal government has in place statutes and processes that give these groups a voice. Period. The courts, depending on which district court you end up at, have their prerogative to interpret those laws and processes.

"Does this give the minority in our area a strong voice? Yes. Is this the fault of the state? Absolutely not," he said.

Utah Department of Transportation spokesman Tom Hudachko said the settlement is "good for transportation, good for the environment, good for the economy.

"We get to move forward, we have not moved forward in almost 10 years," he said.

(Copyright 2005 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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