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Cities miffed over bill for Legacy trails upkeep

Cities miffed over bill for Legacy trails upkeep

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SALT LAKE CITY (AP) -- Leaders of several Davis County cities are happy to see the 14-mile Legacy Parkway nearing completion, but they weren't expecting to foot the bill to keep up its trails and walkways.

Traffic will roll on the parkway in September. The Davis-to-Salt Lake County route will be lined with a natural walkway, asphalt path and trail for horseback riders.

The Utah Department of Transportation expects the cities of Centerville, Farmington, North Salt Lake, West Bountiful and Woods Cross to cover the cost of trails maintenance once the agency's contract with a landscaper expires.

"We never addressed these issues or thought about it," said Blaine Lutz, Centerville's assistant city manager. "We always thought, 'The state built it; the state'll maintain it."'

UDOT staff disclosed the expectation a few months ago. Beginning in fall 2009, each city would be responsible for 2-mile to 3--mile stretches on one side of the highway, although North Salt Lake must pay for trails on both sides.

"That came as quite a shock to us, because that position - to ask the cities to maintain the trails - was totally opposite of what was distinctly said in the beginning phases of the Legacy Parkway approval," Farmington City Manager Max Forbush said. "We were told that UDOT would be maintaining or hiring someone to maintain it."

UDOT spokesman Nile Easton said passing trail maintenance costs onto cities has always been in the Legacy plans. He said there's no record showing the upkeep was UDOT's responsibility, "but if that was said, that was wrong."

Easton said UDOT projects often include building community assets, like sidewalks or trails, during road construction. Once in place the responsibility for the extra amenities falls to the municipality.

"It's beautiful, it's an important part (of the highway) and we're happy to have it," said Gary Uresk, Woods Cross' city administrator, "We're just not prepared right now to financially take over the maintenance."

Bountiful City Administrator Wendell Wild call the UDOT plan a "mandated, unfunded project."

Initial estimates place the ongoing maintenance costs at between $50,000 and $80,000 per year for each city and some are wondering weighing whether they must take on the task. Centerville officials say they're also concerned about the legal liabilities the city could face is anyone were injured on the trails.

"It's frustrating ... we're stuck with the funding of it perpetually," North Salt Lake City Manager Collin Wood said. "We're not happy at all."

Information from: The Salt Lake Tribune

(Copyright 2008 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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