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Jed Boal ReportingThe roadblocks are gone, the debate is done, the state will build Legacy Parkway. The Governor's ink today ends years of struggle and paves the way for the controversial road.
After more than a dozen years of planning and four years of legal limbo, Governor Jon Huntsman, Jr. this morning signed the legislation that puts Legacy Parkway back on the road. It's the end of a battle, but hard work intensifies.
Smiles replaced scowls and applause swept away groans as the Governor signed a resolution to build Legacy Parkway.
Sen. Sheldon Killpack, (R) Syracuse: "Hallelujah, we're at this point! Road dirt is ready to fly and road base is on the way."
The Utah Legislature approved an out-of-court settlement last week to build the parkway across Great Salt Lake marshlands. Lawmakers compromised on the final plan to end a lawsuit brought by a coalition of environmental groups and citizens.
Marc Heileson, Sierra Club: "We truly did work out a win-win solution. Everybody can have a solid transportation need filled, where we can protect our environment, and tomorrow will be better than today."
The final plan includes a narrower road with noise-reducing pavement. Legacy will be restricted to cars and light trucks with a 55 mile per hour speed limit. Long-time Legacy backers pointed to a crash this morning that shut down I-15 in Bountiful for four hours. They say the 14-mile Parkway will provide a clear alternate.
Sen. Dan Eastman, (R) Bountiful: "Anybody who has an idea that this is not an important transportation corridor has just not traveled in Davis County in the last ten years."
Next spring bulldozers will get back to work. In the coming months UDOT will gather more community input on details of the design.
John Thomas, Legacy Project Director: "We're learning about what a parkway is and incorporating those into the design right now."
Those who helped hash out this deal talked about a more collaborative and cooperative effort that should be used to solve disputes on future projects. Digging resumes in the spring, completion is anticipated in late 2008. Current price tag is 685 million dollars.