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UDOT hears objections to West Davis Corridor project

By KSL.com | Posted - Feb. 8, 2011 at 9:50 p.m.



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WEST POINT -- Homeowner Leo Vettori was one of hundreds of Davis County residents who attended a Utah Department of Transportation open house Tuesday, looking for answers about a highway that might require the demolition of his home.


Just because an area has cattails and has inadequately been drained does not mean it is wetlands.

–Kaysville Mayor Steve Hiatt


#hiatt_q

Vettori said he has suspended improvements on the home he built two years ago until he knows if it will be torn down. In addition to several UDOT officials who were on hand to answer questions, UDOT had maps and charts of the three potential highway routes at the West Point City Hall.

Kaysville Mayor Steve Hiatt met earlier in the day with state highway officials and remained convinced the new highway would unnecessarily wipe out a neighborhood in his city when it could be built farther west in an area that's being labeled as wetlands. "Just because an area has cattails and has inadequately been drained does not mean it is wetlands," the Kaysville mayor said.

West Davis Corridor options [click to enlarge]
West Davis Corridor options [click to enlarge]

Randall Jefferies, UDOT's project manager, said UDOT has carefully weighed environmental and residential impacts and will continue to listen to public concerns. UDOT collected public opinion via paper and computer submissions during Tuesday night's open house.

Some 13 municipalities in Davis and Weber counties would be directly affected by the West Davis Corridor project, which would connect with Interstate 15 and the Legacy Parkway on the south and re-connect with I-15 in Weber County on the north.

A number of those cities are lining up to debate UDOT's three proposed options for the highway at public hearings this week and at community meetings of their own.

"To Kaysville specifically, we're very frustrated, and I'd say a bit fired up on the alignment," Hiatt said. The Wasatch Front Regional Council plotted residential growth plans and future highway alignments in a study conducted 10 years ago, he said, but UDOT's proposals tread on land that has recent residential development.

Kaysville residents met at a church after Tuesday's public hearing to discuss concerns and to begin a petition requesting that their questions be answered they plan to send to UDOT officials.

"UDOT is lacking in transparency," said Kaysville resident James Burton. "You're not going to get an answer at the open house."

Davis County Commissioner John Petroff also spoke at the meeting. "UDOT is really not the bad guy in all of this," he said. "I don't think that UDOT is trying to deliberately destroy homes." Federal law requires wetlands to be avoided unless a compelling reason necessitates otherwise, he added. On the northern end of the project, West Haven mayor Brian Melaney is urging residents to weigh in on an alignment option that would enter Weber County farther to the west than UDOT's other two options, though none of those alters the proposed alignment on the south end.

UDOT open meeting schedule
  • Wednesday, Feb. 9: Open house will be in Farmington at the Legacy Events Center, 151 S. 1100 West, from 4:30 p.m. to 8 p.m.
  • Thursday's meeting will be in the West Haven City Hall, 4385 S. 3900 West, also from 4:30 p.m. to 8 p.m.

Jeffries said the southern end of the project is in an area where "there are some real environmental challenges on the west side, including potential wetlands and wildlife habitat." He was part of Tuesday's meeting with mayors and other city officials, and will be participating in UDOT's open houses that continue through Thursday.

"Our team is looking at ways we can best balance the impacts between the natural environment and the community," Jefferies said.

The Conservation Chair of Utah's Sierra Club, Dan Mayhew, said any highway expansion would be unfortunate for both residents and wildlife. At a minimum, the project would require 36 acres of wetlands and 31 acres of high quality wildlife habitat.

"We would not support any alignment that destroys habitat and or wetlands," Mayhew said Monday.

The Sierra Club will take an official position on the proposed highway after ramifications of the project become clearer, Mayhew added.

The most expensive of the three alternatives could cost $525 million and the least expensive option will cost at least $400 million, according to a West Davis Corridor publication.

UDOT's Wednesday, Feb. 9 open house will be in Farmington at the Legacy Events Center, 151 S. 1100 West, from 4:30 p.m. to 8 p.m., and Thursday's meeting will be in the West Haven City Hall, 4385 S. 3900 West, also from 4:30 p.m. to 8 p.m.

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Story written by Steve Fidel and Spencer Garn, with contributions from Sarah Dallof.

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