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Residents file lawsuit against US 89 expansion

(KSL TV)


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KAYSVILLE — A citizens’ group, trying to stop the widening of U.S. 89 in Davis and Weber counties, has filed a lawsuit against the Utah Department of Transportation.

Residents’ Voices United on 89, or ReVU89, filed the lawsuit in Utah’s Third District Court against UDOT and its executive director. The group says it is made up of about 1,500 residents who live, work or recreate near the section of highway.

UDOT wants to convert a nine-mile stretch of U.S. 89, between Farmington on the south and I-84 on the north, into a freeway with interchanges and overpasses. Currently, the highway is four lanes through that area.

The drastic changes are needed, UDOT says, because the road is at capacity and already failing to meet current traffic volume. In addition, more than 400 crashes have occurred on the road in the last three years.

The lawsuit says UDOT didn’t follow procedure while studying the potential environmental impacts of the project.

“UDOT impermissibly constrained and restricted the study area for this project to avoid the full review of all regional impacts,” the complaint reads.

Because the widening project alters interstate highways and connections to federal interstates, the lawsuit argues that UDOT needed a rigorous Environmental Impact Statement instead of just a State Environmental Study.

Through a statement, a UDOT spokesperson acknowledged that the department is aware of the lawsuit but declined an interview to discuss the lawsuit’s claims.

“While our attorneys respond to the legal issues, we will continue the collaborative effort as we move forward with project plans, and remain committed to providing an appropriate transportation solution for the traffic demands on the US-89 corridor,” said the statement from UDOT public information officer John Gleason.

Photo: KSL TV
Photo: KSL TV

Gleason also highlighted the numerous public meetings UDOT held to gather public comment about the project.

“During this rigorous process, UDOT representatives worked closely with local community leaders, government agencies and residents, incorporating many of their ideas into the final approved plan,” the statement said.

“It sounds awfully suspicious that it was intentionally cut to those points, so that they didn’t invoke the federal government,” said Kaysville resident Greg Ferguson, who is a named plaintiff in the lawsuit, about the lack of an Environmental Impact Statement.

Ferguson lives near U.S. 89 and says he and his neighbors are worried about the environmental impacts of the planned freeway, especially on air quality, more so than having views of the mountains ruined because of elevated sections of roadway and sound walls.

Photo: KSL TV
Photo: KSL TV

“I can’t in good conscience not do everything I can to prevent this from happening,” he said. “My take on this is what it’s doing to the people who live here, it’s secondary what it’s doing to the foothills.”

He argues that the width of the road is much larger than just the six travel lanes because of frontage roads planned for parts of the thoroughfare.

“Why do you take a residential area and plop down really it’s 10 lanes of freeway right smack through the middle of it?” Ferguson said.

The expansion of U.S. 89, with a price tag of $275 million, was scheduled to start next summer and be completed in 2021. It’s unclear if the lawsuit will change that timeline.

More information about the project can be found at udot.utah.gov/us89.

Photos

Ladd Egan

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